Dead Man's Chest - Part I
Friday, January 2, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. And a new story begins. Jayne gets a message from his brother, Kaylee is trying to cope with morning sickness, and Mal is ... well, Mal. NEW CHAPTER


Jayne sighed. His eyes were still fixed on the small Cortex screen which now only showed the wave notification instead of the recording he’d just been watching, but he was seeing something else entirely. Standing with his brother, Matty, in the chapel at Southdown Abbey, waiting for River to come down the aisle and make him the happiest man in the ‘verse. They’d been joking about how the younger Cobb would be forced to take on the job if Jayne backed out.

“Hell, Jayne,” Matty had said. “I got me Jolene back home. She’s about all I can handle.”

“Yeah, they get you like that, don’t they?”

“Surely do.” He coughed slightly. “So, you gonna be best man when I marry Jo?”

“You askin’?”

“I’m askin’.”

“Then I’d be proud to, Matty.”

And it looked like he was going to be held to that. Jayne reached out and pressed play again.

Matty appeared, a grin cracking his face in two, making him look younger than his years, and a happier version of his brother. He laughed, then spoke. “So Jayne, ‘spect you didn’t think you’d be seeing this yet, but, well, I figured something as important as this should be said face to face, or as much as I can with you outta range. Jason says he’ll get this sent soon as I’ve finished, so I’m hoping to get a reply in the next day or two.”

He glanced down, and when he looked back up there was such a light in his eyes it was almost embarrassing. “See, I finally got Jolene to name the day, and it’s the nineteenth of this month. Enough time to get the banns read and all, and maybe for you to get home? I’d like to see you stand up for me as best man, like I did for you. Like you said you would. Any chance of you asking that captain of yours? I know if you got a job it might be hard, but can’t hurt to ask. It’d mean a lot to me to have my big brother standing next to me when Jolene says she’s gonna be my wife for ever.”

He chuckled again, then coughed. “Anyway, I better go now ‘fore I embarrass myself even more, and make Jason laugh himself silly. Let me know soon as you can. Look, Jayne, if it ain't you it’s gonna have to be Terry, and he’s gonna want to do a party, and I can only imagine where I’m gonna end if that’s the case. Probably naked and strapped to a whore, like as not. So try your best, dong mah?”

The message ended on Matty’s hopeful face, before going back to the notification. Jayne sighed again.


Simon closed the cupboard and sighed in satisfaction. For once no-one had been shot, stabbed or anything else in the last few weeks, and the supplies were lasting longer than anticipated. And with the money he’d been putting by when he could, it wouldn’t be long before he’d be able to ask Mal for the upgrade to the scanner.

Not that he wanted Mal to pay for it, of course. He’d have the money to do just that, and with it he could have a much improved view of anything going on inside someone, not least his own wife. But he’d need Mal’s permission, and hopefully his approval. It would make like simpler when he needed to remove any bullets, too.

He strolled out of the infirmary and up the stairs towards the kitchen, feeling a very deserved cup of coffee was in order. Or whatever they were using for coffee these days. Maybe Kaylee would join him, while the children were all busy. She could doubtless do with a break and -

Bao-bei?” Simon ran into the engine room, going down onto his knees next to his wife, flying flat on the floor. “What is it? Did you fall?” He put his hand on her stomach, checking their unborn child.

Kaylee looked up at him, at the concern on his face, and had to smile. “It’s okay, Simon. I just … felt sick, is all.”

“And that had you lying on the deck?”

She levered herself into a sitting position, her expanding waistline getting in the way a little as he assisted where he could. “It was the movement,” she explained, pointing up to the turning heart of Serenity. “Made my stomach do the flip flops, and rather than throwing up I thought I’d try one of those exercises ‘Nara told me about. You lie on the floor, taking deep breaths from your toes … that kinda thing.”

“Did it work?”

“A bit. Don’t feel like I’m gonna decorate my work bench any more.”

“I think I’d better check you over, make sure you’re not dehydrated.” He caught something flitting across her face. “Have you been drinking like I told you?”

She looked guilty. “Well, I …”

Kaylee.” He sounded exasperated.

“It makes me wanna pee all the time,” she tried to explain. “And when I’m working I can’t be having that, getting half undressed just to -”

“Sweetheart, it wasn’t just a recommendation that I plucked out of mid-air,” Simon said, sitting down on the floor next to her. “You know you have to, if nothing else to stave off something like this.” He looked down her body to her toes in their sandals, painted bright green today, and the thought occurred to him that she wouldn‘t be able to reach them before too much longer. “If you fainted in here, Buddha alone knows what could happen.”

“My girl wouldn’t hurt me.”

“And if you fell in the compression coil? Or down the stairs? Then what? Serenity can’t apologise if something happens to you. Or the baby.”

She wanted to get mad with him, to tell him he was fussing, but in all truth she quite liked it, and was actually enjoying the attention. “I know,” she admitted.

“And we’ve waited so long.”

Her eyes narrowed slightly. “Are you suggesting it’s not me you’re worried about?”

He held up both hands. “Kaylee, you know full well it isn’t. And you want this baby as much as me.”

She cradled her belly, looking sheepish. “I surely do.”

“Then will you be sensible?”

“Nah, no, now, Simon, you didn’t ask for that. You asked me to drink more. And I will. I promise.”

“Because if you don’t, I’ll tell Mal, and he’ll order you to the infirmary and I’ll have to hook you up to a drip.”

She grimaced. “Needles.”

“Exactly. And you wouldn’t want that, would you?”


“Then I suggest you come with me now, I run a quick physical and then you have about a gallon of water.”

She smiled suddenly, her internal glow switched back on. “Can we lock the door? And maybe I should give you a physical too. Just to be friendly.”

He tried to glare at her. “Is that all you think about?”

She shrugged, still grinning. “Hormones.”

He climbed to his feet and held out his hand. “Come on,” he said, feeling his lips twitch.

“Hey, at least I ain’t like Freya and the Cap,” Kaylee said, letting him lead her out of her domain and towards his. “They were at it every chance they got when she was carrying.”

“I think you come a close second, bao-bei.”

She chuckled happily. “I think maybe I do.”


Mal sat in the pilot’s chair, staring peacefully out into the black, letting the sound of the engine wash over him, punctuated by occasional bursts of childish laughter as the kids played in the cargo bay.

“Tag,” his shadow in the other seat said. “Ethan’s it.”

He smiled at River, her heels drawn up in front of her as usual. “Bethie’s idea?”

“Of course.” River counted her toes. “She’s winning.”

“As usual.” Mal smiled. “One of these days one of the others’ll complain, there’ll be a big fight, followed by days of sulking. And that’ll just be the parents.”

“I don’t sulk.”

“Give it time, xiao nu. You just give it time.” He glanced at Caleb sitting on a blanket between them, playing with some carved wooden shapes Jayne had made for him, and he idly wondered just how many children they were going to end up with, and whether Serenity could cope.

“She can.”

Mal shook his head. “You know, one of these days you’re gonna stop peeking.”

“Unlikely. And fifteen.”


“Fifteen children.”

He felt the colour drift from his face and his eyes darted towards Caleb. “You saying we’re gonna have -”

“Serenity can cope with fifteen. In total. If most of the rooms are used and the table extended. We have six and one on the way. That still allows for eight more.”

He relaxed. “Really.”

She reached down and ran her fingers through Caleb‘s dark hair. “I personally intend to have another. Perhaps two. Jayne would like a dozen more, but I think that’s mostly because he likes to be naked with me, to make love to me.”

Mal coughed slightly. “Right.”

She fixed him with her dark eyes, but there was more than a touch of mischievousness in them. “Still a prude, captain?”

“Your lovelife, as I’ve pointed out before, ain’t none of my affair. And I’d take it as a kindness if you didn’t flaunt it in front of me.”

“What about your flaunting? A couple of nights ago, in the kitchen?”

Now he felt the blush race up his chest, luckily stopping before it reached his face. “That ain’t flaunting, River. Frey and I were … just hungry, is all.”

“Is that what you call it?”

“And you weren’t supposed to be eavesdropping.”

Her nose wrinkled. “People have to eat on that table, you know.”

My table.”

“So that means you and Frey can -”


She smiled angelically. “Just saying.”

“Don’t. And I think me and Frey‘ve got first dibs on any other kids.”

Footsteps behind them announced Jayne heading up the stairs to the bridge. “Someone else knocked up?” he asked, crossing the small room and making it feel even smaller.

“Not yet, zhang fu,” River said, beaming at him.

“Good.” He leaned down and swung Caleb up onto his hip. “How’s my boy doing?”

The little boy laughed. “Dada,” he said, stroking his father’s goatee.

A smile forced its way onto his lips as his heart swelled somewhat. “That’s me.”

“Of course,” the young mother added, only a trifle indignantly. “Who else would it be?”

“I wasn’t saying nothing,” Jayne said, touching his son’s cheek.

“I know.”

“You up here just to make the place look untidy, or is there a reason you’re cluttering up my bridge?” Mal asked, turning the seat to look at the big man.

“No. Just …”

“Have to ask,” River murmured.

Jayne sighed. He should have known she’d have been listening in.

“Something you need?” Mal raised an eyebrow.

He took a deep breath. Gorramit, why should he always feel like he was asking not to be hanged? Then he felt River’s hand run down his thigh and he took strength from it. “Mal, I gotta be on Ezra on the nineteenth.”

Mal’s second eyebrow joined the first. “And why would that be?”

“You remember my brother. Matty.”

“Not likely to forget there’s two of you, Jayne.”

“Yeah, well …”

“Oh, get it off your chest.”

“Well, he’s finally got up the balls and asked Jolene to marry him. Jolene Anderson, that was. Least when I knew her. Only she got married, had a couple of kids and, well, her husband up and died and she and Matty got friendly.” He chuckled. “Boy always did carry a torch for her, even when he was knee high to nothing.”

“And?” Mal prompted.

“They’re getting married on the nineteenth, and he wants me to stand up for him, as best man.” Jayne spoke quickly, worried the words might get tangled up in his mouth otherwise.

“You conjure the last time we went to one of your relative’s weddings?” Mal asked, his lips twitching.

“That ain’t gonna happen, Mal. That was Jangyin, this is Ezra. The two places ain’t anything alike.”

“Of course not.”

“Look, if you ain’t wanting to swing by there, you drop me and River someplace we can catch a ride.”

“You and River?” Mal glanced at the young psychic.

“A’course. Ain’t going any place without her,” Jayne said stoutly, then added in a resigned tone of voice, “Look, if you’re gonna be a kuh-ooh duh lao nao-jurn about it -”

“Now, don’t you go putting words into my mouth. I ain’t said no yet. Although you keep calling me a tyrant and I might.”

“Are you going to?”

Mal glanced at River, who was studiously gazing at the panel in front of her, even though he knew full well she was listening intently. “Well, the job we‘ve got takes us to Constance. It ain‘t much more of a hop to Ezra. And we could give Mooney a call. He works that sector, might be able to -”

“That a yes, then?” Jayne interrupted.

“Seems that way.” He glanced out of the window, at the stars that were changing position. “Since your wife has already input a new course heading, I guess perhaps we are.”

“I’ve merely shaved a few hours, and the new vector means we can get to Ezra in good time after,” River explained.

“Is that the case,” Mal said dryly. “Just don’t go telling Hank he got it wrong.”

“Not wrong. Just … not as right.”


Jayne let out a huge sigh of relief. “Thanks, Mal. It’s just … what with Matty being there when Riv and I got hitched, and us being … you know … brothers again after all this time -”

“You’ll be there.”

“’N’ I can give the bride a kiss. Seem to recall Jolene was real pretty, even as a girl, and -” River coughed slightly, the big man jerked as if he’d been stabbed with a red hot poker. “Well, maybe not so much with the kissing.”

“Good boy,” she breathed, and Mal had to fight to stop the grin sliding across his face.

The laughter drifting up from the cargo bay turned to sounds of arguing and raised voices.

“I think maybe that day of one of the kids complaining has come faster than we anticipated,” Mal said, standing up and preparing to go stop potential bloodshed as he strode past Jayne and his little family.


The man threw another spadeful of earth over his shoulder, and he heard it splattering onto the dirt behind him. For a moment he paused, taking a long drink from the insulated bottle at his hip. Slipping it back into its holster, he wiped the sweat from his brow, leaving a long smear of grime across his forehead.

He pulled his thin singlet from his skin, feeling it stick once more as soon as he let go, the fabric soaked through already, then bent again to his digging, the regular action monotonous and mind-numbing as he began to sing quietly.

“Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest …”

to be continued


Friday, January 2, 2009 1:53 PM


So cute, then so creepy. I love how you always do this, it keeps me hooked!! I'm glad Jayne's going to be Matty's best man, it just seems ... right. xD

Friday, January 2, 2009 4:08 PM


Mundane and creepifying by turns, that's you! I'm thrilled for the new year or Maya tales.


Friday, January 2, 2009 8:14 PM


That ending was indeed creepifyin'.

And 15 children on Serenity? Let me do the addition here....

Saturday, January 3, 2009 3:31 AM


I love the glimpses into the personalities behind the characters here. And your sense of humor is perfect!

Saturday, January 3, 2009 6:34 AM


I just hope that wasn't Matty being buried at the end of this part. You do have a habit of plunging us into angst and such just when the story hits a sweet point. So happy to see you have started another Maya story. No nicer way to start the New Year, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, January 3, 2009 7:52 AM


Great new start! I am looking forward to lots of creepy new tales and some fluff from you. Loved the last line here. It gave me chills.

Monday, January 5, 2009 8:41 AM


Ohhh...lovely new start! So excited to see you writing more!


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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!]