Dead Man's Chest - Part XVII
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. The Laus have gone, and now all that matters is the wedding. NEW CHAPTER


The next few days passed pleasantly enough, with everyone getting ready for the wedding.

Monday evening, Dan Jefferson paid a visit to Serenity, staying for supper only when Kaylee persuaded him.

“Don’t think you can get round me with … what’s that great smell?” he asked, sniffing appreciatively.

Coq au vin,” Simon supplied as he placed the dish in the centre of the table and lifted the lid. “Only with some of my wife’s home-made wine instead of the vin, and the coq is some creature Jayne went out and caught.”

Dan’s eyes widened in surprise. “You cooked?”

“One of my many talents.” He smiled. “Don’t you?”

“Simon, I grew up with a mother and four sisters, and a Pa who considered a woman’s place was in the kitchen. Or the bedroom. I can’t even boil an egg without nearly burning down the house.”

“Exactly the same as me,” Hank said eagerly. “Without the feeling a woman’s place is in the kitchen, of course,” he added quickly, smiling at Zoe. “But the bedroom’s fine.”

She merely raised an eyebrow at him.

“Won’t Deirdra be waiting a meal on you?” Mal asked, amused.

“Nope.” Dan watched as the plates were filled. “I went home earlier, and we talked a bit. Probably best I give her some space for a few hours.”

“Is everything going to be okay?” Freya asked, putting bowls in front of both Ethan and Jesse.

“I hope so.” Taking a hunk of bread from the platter River passed to him, he paused a moment. “I want it to be. So bad. It’s just … I can’t make her see I’d never want anyone else.”

“Give it time,” Kaylee advised, sighing as Bethie attacked her food as usual, Hope much more delicate with her eating.

“Oh, I intend to. Much as it takes.”

After supper Mal saw Dan to the ramp.

“You really don’t wanna tell me what happened out there today, do you?” the sheriff asked, feeling a pleasant fullness in his belly.

“Well, that kinda depends.”

“On what?”

“Whether you’re talking as a person or a lawman.”

“Can’t I be both?”

“Not right now.”

“Then … as a person.”

Mal considered what to say, then realised Freya was standing on the top catwalk. Out of the corner of his eye he could see her nod. He’s okay, Mal. He won’t tell anyone, not if we say not to.

“Shiny.” He took a breath. “We found … something out there, and the Laus took it. Now, I ain't gonna complain, since we came out of the desert with no less than we went in, and no bullet wounds, either. But Aiden Lau was gonna hurt us, so I figure we won.”

Dan’s interest was more than piqued. “What did you find?”

“Coins. Gold coins. Worth something of a small fortune.”

The sheriff shook his head in disbelief. “That’s …”


“I can make an official report, get the Laus bound next time they make planetfall. You had the permit, so in theory –“

Mal held up his hand. “No. Exactly what I don’t want to happen. Like I said, we’re alive and unharmed, and I’d like to keep it that way. Chester Lau’s reputation suggests he has a long memory, and I’d rather be forgotten.”

“But –“

“No. I told you ‘cause you asked, and I think I can trust you. But nothing else is gonna come of it.”

“Okay.” Dan sighed heavily. “I don’t like it, but okay.”


“These coins … did they have anything to do with Ephraim Ingleby? I mean, as curator of one of the biggest museums in the Core, he might’ve come across something. Were they old?”

“Can’t say.”

“Can’t or won’t?”

“You’ve just enjoyed a good meal, and maybe made some new friends. Think we should leave it at that, don’t you?”

Dan stared at the other man suspiciously, then nodded. “Fine. And you’re right. The meal was good. And I’d better be getting home, ‘fore Deirdra takes it into her head I'm with another woman.”

“I could always get Kaylee to rub up against you,” Mal offered. “You could be smelling of engine grease if you just say the word.”

“I might enjoy that too much,” Dan said, laughing as he walked out into the darkness.


Matty, despite having elicited a promise from Jolene that she was going to go through with it, had a bad attack of nerves on the Tuesday, necessitating Simon taking him into the infirmary and doping him up.

“There,” the young doctor said, tossing the used syringe into the sharps box. “That should help.”

Matty took a deep breath and felt his muscles coming out of spasm. “Thanks,” he said sincerely. His fingers started to relax, and he studied the crescent shaped marks his nails had made in his palms. “Did you … when you got hitched … did you have nerves?”

Simon smiled, and patted the younger Cobb on the shoulder. “I did,” he admitted. “But then I did get married twice.”

“Twice? You mean Kaylee’s your second?”

“No. I mean I married her twice. First time was on board this very ship, with Mal officiating.” At Matty’s somewhat startled look, he went on, “Freya was pregnant, you see, and there might have been complications, so she had to …” He paused. “Anyway, to cut a long story short Kaylee asked Mal to marry us, and then we had the proper ceremony on Phoros.” He grinned. “After that, it was easy.”

“No more nerves?”

“Not when I saw her standing there, in that dress her mother had bought her. She looked so … beautiful.” His eyes glazed slightly as he remembered her, and he realised just how much she meant to him.

“But before that?”

Simon came out of his reverie. “Well, don’t tell Kaylee, but I had recourse to a little of what I’ve just given you. To take the edge off.”

Matty grinned, feeling better by the minute. “I won’t blab.”

“Besides, my wedding was easy. When Mal and Freya got married, they ended up in jail.”

Now Matty’s jaw dropped. “You’re kidding me.”

“Not at all.” Simon hitched himself onto the medbed. “It all started when this woman Mal knew …”

Five minutes later Kaylee went past on her way to fix the lock on the passenger shower. She glanced into the infirmary and saw her husband and Matty laughing their heads off, arms wrapped around each other. She smiled. “Nice he’s making friends,” she murmured to herself, then headed off with a determined look in her eye.


After that, as prophesied, the women of Serenity spent a lot of time and a little money getting things just right, and succeeded in keeping Jolene from calling things off again.

“Cold feet,” Zoe said, sipping tea on Wednesday morning.

“Absolutely,” Freya agreed. She nibbled one of the cookies. “Not unusual,” she added, brushing crumbs from her shirt.

“I wouldn’t marry Jayne for months,” River put in. “Zoe was the same, with Hank.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Kaylee concurred, resting the saucer on her bump. “Took me forever to name the day with Simon.”

“And me with Mal.” Freya smiled. “Something about the water on Serenity, I’ve always assumed.”

“So you and Matty?” Zoe waved away any objections. “Normal.”

“Besides, the baby needs a father,” River added, studying a chocolate chip.

“Baby?” each of the other women echoed.

Jolene blushed.


Thursday afternoon Mal cornered River on the bridge and asked a question that had been plaguing him for a few days.

“Why didn’t you take ‘em out, xiao nu?” Mal asked curiously. “The Laus and their men. We’d’a backed you up, ‘though I doubt you‘d‘ve needed us.”

She shrugged. “You didn’t want me to.”

“I didn’t?”

“If there was any danger they were going to kill us, they would all be dead.” She looked towards the mountain, unseen in the distance. “But the Hoard ... is not for us. Too much associated with it.”

“I kinda think Jayne would’ve liked to be associated with a lot of cashy money.”

“But it’s as you said. No point in being the richest corpse around.”

He had to agree.

That night a huge electrical storm broke over the mountains, and most of the crew took their supper outside to watch. Only Kaylee stayed inside, ostensibly making sure that her girl was ready to go if need be, but in reality scared as usual of such things. Simon, who knew his wife all too well, joined her and soon had her thinking of something else, the deep rumbles of thunder covering her moans of delight.

Not needing to hear to know what was going on, Freya glanced at Mal, who gave away he knew too by the somewhat resigned expression on his face, while Bethie and Ethan sighed in unison and tried to concentrate on the light show. River, on the other hand, explained, somewhat loudly and in more than necessary detail, why lightening occurred, just to keep out the mental sound of her brother having sex.


On Friday afternoon, as the crew sat around the table in the kitchen, Jayne handed out paper lanterns on long sticks.

“Uh, much as I appreciate the thought,” Mal said, eyeing his somewhat suspiciously, “but … why?”

“It’s kinda traditional,” the big man explained, looking more embarrassed than anyone realised he could manage. “Soon as it gets dark, we go to the cemetery. Visit the graves.” He looked down at his feet. “Family thing, Mal. As in the whole family of the man getting married goes and pays their respects. And seeing as you’re mine …”

“Jayne, one day I’m gonna get used to the fact that you’ve changed over the years.” Mal dropped a friendly hand onto the ex merc’s shoulder.

“Not that much,” Jayne complained, shrugging it off. “Not sly, for a start. Just you go ask River.” He looked to his wife for encouragement.

“Not sly,” she murmured. “Not when you -”

“Not saying you are,” Mal said quickly, perfectly willing not to hear about their amorous adventures. “It was more of a compliment.”

Jayne nodded. “Then that’s okay.”

“I think it’s sweet,” Kaylee said, her lantern waving gently above her head, making her look like a pregnant pixie. She grinned widely. “And a’course we’re family. Is there anything we need to do? You know, help things go right?”

Jayne thought for a moment. “Well, if you’ve got a bottle of your booze spare, we usually take gifts.”

She nodded. “Course I have. Got some of the good stuff, too.”

“Shiny. My Pa always did like a nip of something on a Saturday night, keep out the cold.”

“I’m sure we can all find something,” Zoe said softly.

“Nah, it ain’t necessary,” Jayne said firmly. “Just being there … that’s more’n enough.”

“Then that’s what we’ll do,” Mal said, his lips curving.

“What about the kids?” Hank asked, handing his lantern to Ben. “Can they come?”

“The whole family,” Jayne confirmed.

“Shiny,” Ben said, grinning widely.


As the sun set, Matty and Jolene, along with her two children, walked up to Serenity, their lanterns already lit.

“All ready?” Matty asked, his arm around Jolene’s waist.

“That we are.” Jayne turned to survey the others, then noticed Simon and Hank were each carrying what appeared to be baskets. “What’s that?” he asked.

“We were looking it up,” Kaylee put in, walking down the ramp to join him. “And it’s traditional to have a picnic too. So we got some food together.”

“Kaylee -”

She put her fingers on his lips, feeling the short hairs of his goatee on her skin. “Traditional,” she repeated. “And people tell stories. And I know Jolene’s got lots to tell about Matty.”

“That’s true,” the bride-to-be agreed.

“You wouldn’t,” Matty said, looking into her eyes.

She didn’t answer, just gazed back, and the colour leached from his face.

Mal smiled. “Come on, then. I hear tell there might be a peach tart in one of ‘em.” He smacked his lips, making Jesse, sitting on his hip, giggle.

At the cemetery other lamps had already been lit, swaying slightly in the breeze. Jayne and Matty went first, their voices low enough so that no-one else could hear what they were saying. Then they waved the others inside, and they sat down on the dirt. At first it was awkward, no-one knowing what to say as it wasn’t something any of them had done before, but when Jayne got out the bottle of engine brew and proceeded to pour it onto the earth between the graves, that broke the ice.

“Jayne! I didn’t know you were just gonna …” Kaylee was outraged.

“A gift,” River said, leaning against her sister-in-law. “A libation to the gods.”

“Don’t know about that, moonbrain,” Jayne said, sitting back down. “My Ma didn’t hold no truck with those kinda thoughts, but … it’s tradition.”

“Whatever it is, it smelled like a good bottle,” Hank put in, breathing in appreciatively.

“Got another in the basket.” Kaylee threw back the lid and lifted it out.

The pilot grinned widely. “Now you’re talking.”

“Peach tart?” Mal prompted.

“Yum,” Bethie said, and everyone laughed as Kaylee sighed theatrically.

They talked then, long into the night, as the children nodded off in laps, about families and memories, and the people they missed. As the lanterns began to die, one by one, they parted company, two halves of the same family heading their separate ways.


Saturday morning found Mal sitting at the big wooden table in the kitchen, a cup of coffee in front of him, immersed in one of Hank’s trashy novels. Everyone else was having a lay in. Everyone except Bethie.

“Uncle Mal?”

He looked up to see the little girl standing in the doorway. “Hey, there. You hungry?”

“No. Thank you.”

He was surprised. It usually took something pretty big to make this particular Tam lose her appetite. “You feeling okay, short stub?”

“Shiny, Uncle Mal. Only ...”

“What is it?” When she didn’t answer immediately, he put the book down and held out an arm. “C’m here.”

She scrambled onto his lap, letting her legs swing under his thigh. “Uncle Mal ...”

“Yeah, that’s me. Now how about finishing the sentence?”

She bit her lip, then said, quickly, in case she lost her courage. “Hope and me, we ain’t given Uncle Matty a pressie.”

“Well, I kinda think your Ma and Pa had that in hand.”

“Not the same.” She looked down at her hands, her fingers all tangled up together. “Uncle Mal, those two coins ...” Her voice trailed off.

He understood. “You think maybe we should give them to Matty and Jolene.”

“Well, one’s mine.” She looked up. “It was in Uncle Jayne’s box, and he gave it to me.”

“And Hope’s?”

Her eyes dropped again. “She found it.”

“That she did.” He stopped the smile tugging at his lips. “And you think Uncle Matty should have them.”


“But you know he can’t sell ‘em. And it ain’t safe for him to keep ‘em either. Not if someone was to find out where they came from.”

“I know.” She wriggled on his lap. “But Momma’s got an arc welder ...”


Jayne was less easy to convince.

“Aw, but Mal –“

“You know it makes sense. We can’t keep ‘em, and we can’t sell ‘em. What happens if it gets back to the Laus that we had a coupla coins and didn’t hand ‘em over? You think they would’ve believed we didn’t know where the rest of it was?”

“I know, but … they’re … gold.”

“And one way or the other I think Bethie has the right idea. Better they go to some proper use, to someone as can make ‘em work for a living.”

“We can do that.” Jayne pushed his hands deep into his pockets. “Use it to keep flyin’.”

“Jayne, much as I like the sentiment, it’d be just too dangerous. We’ve got enemies enough - I don’t think we need any more.”

The big man didn’t answer, just strode away towards the cargo bay, his boots ringing on the metal staircase down to the floor. He stared at his weights, at Bethie’s small set next to them, and with a violent movement he kicked the bench against the wall, the sound reverberating around the cargo bay.

Caleb has his toy, he heard in his mind, and he looked up to where River stood outside their shuttle. “That’s all that’s important,” she said out loud.

“Coulda set us up, Riv. You, me, Caleb ... If your bro is right, if they’re worth what he says … wouldn’t’a needed to do a damn thing for the rest of our lives.”

She descended the metal staircase slowly. “Boring.”

He watched her, unblinking. “Could’a bought you every little thing you ever wanted. Pretty bits. Fancy stuff. And decent food, too.”

River smiled slightly. “I’d get fat. You too.”

“Could be fun. Rollin’ round in our best clothes. ‘Specially made.”


He had to chuckle. “So you really think we’re better off without being stinking rich?”

“I have you.”

“Yeah, well ...” She picked up one end of the bench, and he hurried to take it from her. “I’ll do it.” He set it back in its normal place, taking the time to gather himself. “So ... the horse. Is it worth much?”

“Not ... intrinsically, no,” she said carefully.

Still, he understood. “Pretty much like me, then, eh?”

She stood close enough for him to smell her personal perfume. “No, my Jayne. You are above rubies.”

to be concluded


Tuesday, February 24, 2009 4:03 AM


Spectacular as usual Jane. Looking forward to the marriage ceremony.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009 6:02 AM


I just love how you made Dan out to be a good guy! I am really enjoying it and can't wait to see the wedding go on without a hitch. That can happen, right?!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 7:00 AM


My favourite bit was the tradition with the lanterns and picnic basket in the graveyard. I found it touching and heart warming. I am also hoping that from River's comments to Mal about it being better the Lau's got the gold coins that it won't do them good in the long run. At least, that is what I am hoping, some of that Divine Justice has to trickle down now and then. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 2:25 PM


I have this feeling the Laus will get into a heap of trouble due to the treasure and will want to take it out on the crew.

I loved the picnic in the cemetary and now the marriage ceremony. I just hope Matty didn't have too much of the drugs in his system during the ceremony.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 11:33 PM


“Coq au vin,” Simon supplied as he placed the dish in the centre of the table and lifted the lid. “Only with some of my wife’s home-made wine instead of the vin, and the coq is some creature Jayne went out and caught.”

Love that Simon quote. Totally canon and made of win.


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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!]