Masks - Part IV
Sunday, October 4, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. The meal, then Cherokee and her crew go on their way, at least for a while. NEW CHAPTER


The conversation flowed around the dinner table, exchanges breaking off from the main group, odd words and half-arguments drawing attention before the discussion slipped smoothly on. Fiddler snuffled for titbits around the edge, while Maoli lay across Ethan’s lap, accepting tiny, delicate mouthfuls as her due. Only the children were quiet, concentrating on eating as much as possible, Bethie in particular shovelling as hard as her spoon would allow, her new braids swinging around her ears.

At the top of the table: River, Mal and Jez …

“I don’t know why he does it.”

“All kids go through a phase like that, xiao nu.”

“I didn’t.”

“I did. I seem to recall a time back on Shadow when my Ma couldn’t turn around but I had something stuck up my nose.”

“But why?”

“Just ‘cause it seemed to fit.”

“And they say I’m crazy?”

“I know what Mal means, though. Personally I used to try and eat things. Earth, twigs, bugs … just to see what they tasted like. And you can stop looking at me like that, River.”

“And to think I used to like you …”

Half-way down: Kaylee, Marcel, Simon and Hank…

“So just let the filter sit for another half hour and you’ll be up and plaguing the ‘verse again.”

“Plaguing? You make it sound like I'm some kind of bacteria.”

“If’n you are, I’m thinking there’s no cure for you.”

“Doc, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t think I’m gonna steal your wife away from you after all.”

“Your loss is definitely my gain.”

“Aw, honey …”

“Do you have to do that at the dinner table?”

“You think that’s bad? Some of the stuff I happen to catch sight of when I’m heading up for my shift, it’s enough to make you go blind. And a pilot needs his eyes, too.”

“I’ll tell Zoe on you, Hank.”

“Aw, Kaylee …”

At the heel: Jayne, Laura and Ida …

“The guy didn’t know what he had.”

“And you didn’t think to tell him?”

“Nah. Got me a good gun for half the price.”

“And what’s this one’s name?”

“Not sure. Maybe I’ll call it Ida.”

“Because it’s small and beautiful?”

“Because it’s got a kick like a mule. Ow!”

“Just practising.”

Other side: Noah, Freya and Zoe …

“It’s just a knack.”

“One that’s likely to come in handy when you have some of your own.”

“I don’t think that’s likely to happen. Jez has never shown any sign of wanting any more children. I think Flynn was enough.”

“But you can, can’t you? I mean …”

“Zoe, if you mean, by that somewhat disgusting gesture, am I fully functional in that department, I have to say yes. Want to see?”

“You even think of it and I’ll forget I’m strapped up.”

“So? It makes us about equal.”

Laughter rolled up the table.

Eventually everyone had had enough to eat, and the conversation died pleasantly back. Privately most of Serenity’s crew were of the opinion that Ida’s cooking wasn’t on a par with Kaylee’s Ma, or even Mrs Boden, but none of them were willing to risk hurting their friend’s feelings. So as Mal leaned back in his chair and quite openly undid the top button on his pants, they all nodded as he said, “Marry me. Or at the very least leave Jez and come and work for me.”

Ida, a wide grin on her pixie face, shook her head. “I’ve got a home, Mal. And I somehow think Freya wouldn’t be too happy having to share her bed with a third person.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” the woman in question said. “For food like that on a daily basis I might consider turning sly.”

Jayne’s eyes glazed a moment, until River kicked him under the makeshift table. He flashed her a wide, only slightly guilty grin.

“It’s not that good.” Ida coloured prettily, belying her years.

Mal chuckled. “Ida, some of our usual grub’s almost as bad as liang cao.”

Simon stirred. “I hope you’re not comparing my food to army rations.”

“Nope. Not yours. And I’m not saying who’s I am comparing it to either. Not if I don’t wanna be sleeping on the couch for the foreseeable.”

Amid the general laughter Freya said, “We’ll be having words, later, Mal.”

“Lookin’ forward to it, xin gan.”

“Talking of sleeping,” Zoe put in, “I think there’s a number of children ought to be in bed.” Her gaze fell on her son.

“Not tired, Mama,” Ben said, then yawned mightily.


He smothered his mouth with his hand, then added, somewhat indistinctly, “No, Mama.”

“It’s bedtime.”

“But if we go to bed they’ll be gone and we won’t see them again,” Ethan explained, shifting in his seat and annoying Maoli, who yowled softly and jumped down.

“Is that the case?” Mal smiled.

“We need to be getting going,” Noah said gently. “We’ve got business to be done.”

Jez nodded. “Beaumonde first, then on to Triumph.” She twinkled at Mal. “Want me to give my regards to Elder Gammon for you?”

Mal sighed theatrically. “I knew I should never have told you about Saffron.”

“Alcohol always did do that to you. Make you voluble. And gullible, too, from what I recall.”

“Well don’t recall anything further. I've a notion there’s a lot of my secrets inside your head.”

“You wouldn’t believe it.”

“And there’s some around here I wouldn’t want to find out.”

Hank suddenly looked very interested. ”Just fun secrets, or blackmailable secrets?”

“I wouldn’t worry,” Mal said to his pilot. “You ain’t ever gonna find out.” He grinned at Jez again. “Best that you be on your way, then.” He glanced at Kaylee. “They okay to go?”

“Should be all set.” She turned to Noah. “Keep her to half-speed for the next dozen hours or so, then you’ll be right as rain.”

He lifted his mug to her. “Will do. And thanks, Kaylee.”

“My pleasure.”

“And we’ll be searching Cherokee ‘fore she leaves to make sure you ain’t kidnapped my mechanic,” Mal added.

“The thought never crossed my mind.”


Marcel shook his head. “I knew nobody loved me, but this is ridiculous.”

The party broke up, with Freya stacking the plates ready to take back to Serenity’s kitchen.

“I can help,” Zoe offered as Kaylee scampered back into Cherokee’s interior to get her tools, Marcel following at a slightly slower pace.

“Nope, you’re not,” Hank said firmly. “You ain’t gonna be doing anything for a few more days.” The pilot was shaking his head firmly.

“I’m perfectly capable,” his wife said, getting to her feet.

“No, you’re not.” Simon shook his head. “You’re going to be strapped up for at least another week, and after that you’ll be on light duties for a month. And lots more physio.”

“What exactly happened?” Jez asked, adding another plate to the pile.

“I fell,” Zoe said succinctly.

Hank was more effusive. “We were playing tag, and Zoe was it. She went to catch Ben only he swerved and Zoe slipped and went down and …” He grimaced. “I heard it go.”

“Me too.”

“Sorry Mama,” the little boy said, then yawned again.

“Not your fault,” she said, putting her hand on his head.

Simon lifted Hope onto his hip, his little girl dozing so much she didn’t notice, except to put her arms around his neck. “It aggravated an old injury, at least from the scans I took, and tore the rotator cuff.”

“I dislocated it once,” Zoe explained. “During the war.”

“Saving my life,” Mal added.

“I guess maybe I never let it heal properly,” she finished.

“More than likely.” Simon held out his hand. “Come on, Bethie.”

“But Daddy …”

“Come on.”

“See them all again soon,” River already up on the catwalk outside the shuttle, Caleb snoring slightly on her shoulder.

“Yeah?” Mal looked up at her, Jesse in his own arms. “You see that, do you?”

“I do.” She smiled. “Until then …” she murmured and ducked inside.

“See?” Simon said to his daughter. “So say goodbye and come to bed.”

Bethie dragged a huge sigh from deep within her soul, put her head on one side and looked at the remaining visitors. “Bye,” she said, dragging her feet as she was escorted out of the cargo bay. “Maybe next time there’ll be pressies,” she added as she disappeared.

Jayne glanced at Freya. “Guess it’s up to me to help,” he said, grabbing a last slice of bread from the platter and swiping it around the meat dish. Popping it into his mouth he picked up one of the tall stacks. “Race yah,” he said around the food and heading quickly for the stairs, his boots making a lot of noise on the metal treads.

Freya laughed, but took hold of a couple of serving dishes and followed him. “See you soon, guys,” she called as she disappeared.

“I’ll be getting these to bed too,” Mal said, touching Ethan on the shoulder. “Come on, big feller. You can help me with Jesse then I’ll come and tuck you in.”

“Too big to be tucked in,” the little boy said, puffing his chest out.

“Is that the case? So you don’t need a story either, do you?”

Ethan considered, weighing up the pros and cons. “Not that big,” he conceded.

“I kinda thought not.” Mal smiled as he turned to Jez. “’Spect you’ll be gone by the time I'm done, so all I’ll say is, safe trip, and maybe we can meet up again soon, spend more time in each other’s company.”

“Won’t Freya get jealous?” Jez asked, looking up towards the top hatch.

“Oh, only a lot.”

“You like to live dangerously, Malcolm Reynolds.”

“I do that, Jezebel Thacker. I do that.” Mal grinned wider, and headed towards the crew quarters, Ethan and Jesse waving until they were out of sight.

Hank moved closer to Noah’s chair. “I’d best be taking him.”

Noah chuckled. “I did wonder if anyone’d notice.” He glanced down at the baby still in the sling around his chest.

“It’s because he’s quiet,” Hank said, waiting for Cherokee’s pilot to undo the fastening before snuggling the sleeping child against his chest. “That’s how come Simon forgot him.”

“And are you going to let him forget ever again?”

Hank grinned. “Not a bit.”

“I thought not.” An idea came to him. “Come on back to my bunk for a sec. There’s something I think maybe might help.”

“You know I ain't sly, don’t you?” Hank said, following Noah back through the airlock. “And if I was, you ain’t exactly my type.”

Zoe felt Ben tug her pants leg. “Mama, what did Daddy mean?”

She looked down. “I’ll explain later. In maybe thirty years or so.” Lifting her head she smiled at Jez. “Be seeing you soon.”

“At least according to River.”

“Oh, she’s right more times than she’s wrong.” Zoe pushed Ben gently ahead of her towards the stairs. “Which is kinda scary when I come to think of it.”


In less than half an hour Serenity had disengaged, and was on her way, and in the captain’s bunk Mal had just removed his boots.

“So what were you and Jez chatting about?” he asked as he twisted his suspenders off his shoulders.

“When?” Freya plumped the pillow a little.

“Just before they left.” He’d seen her in a huddle by the cargo bay door controls with the captain of Cherokee just before she had closed them up. He’d been in the entrance to the common area, watching his wife.

“It wasn’t anything.” She undid her pants and slid them off, tossing them onto the chair.

“So why not tell me? It looked sort of serious.”

She paused in the act of unbuttoning her shirt. “I was just asking if she’d heard from Flynn lately.”

“Had she?”

“No.” She shrugged the fabric off, her face unusually serious. “She doesn’t even know where he is.”

“I’m sure he’s fine.” Mal thought back to the last time he’d seen Jez’s son, and the resentment he could tell had taken root in the boy’s soul.

“He’s not fine, Mal.”

“And you can’t fix it.”

She glared at him. “I didn’t say I could.”

“This isn’t your fight.” He spoke quieter, more gently.

Freya closed her eyes briefly. “I know. I just …”

He searched for something to say, to change the subject. Ah, yes. “You know, I’m surprised Jez didn’t say something about Inara,” he commented. “Seeing as there ain’t no love lost between them.”

“Who said she didn’t?” Freya wriggled out of her panties and slipped under the sheet, leaving it tenting on her hip, but her top half exposed. “Why?”

“Hmmn?” He had been mesmerised, as always, by her tattoo, and now his gaze transferred to the expanse of soft, feminine flesh. It didn’t matter how often he saw it, knew it was hidden beneath her clothing all the time, that he could –and did – have the privilege of seeing it whenever he wanted … her perfect, full breasts and skin ghosted by the palest of fine scars still had the power to render his brain into a state resembling jello.

She smiled indulgently, well aware, without needing to peek, of where his brain had gone, and grateful that he had. Playing with the silver Firefly on the chain around her neck, she said, “Maybe I should cover up. Then you’d answer.”

In a moment he was sitting on the bed, dressed only in his pants. “Don’t you dare.”

“I was considering buying some nightgowns. You know, serviceable ones. Red flannel, maybe.”

“Do they make red flannel night gowns that are skimpy and see-through?” He ran a hand down her arm from her shoulder, feeling her tremble a little under his fingers.

“I doubt it.” She chuckled throatily. “Full length, sleeves to the wrist, covered up from neck to –” She had to stop, since he had leaned down and pressed his mouth onto hers, and all thoughts of nightgowns, flannel or otherwise, and Jez’s son were lost into the ‘verse.


Noah watched out of the bridge window as the smaller Firefly dwindled and disappeared, but he still gazed after her.

“Penny for them?” Jez asked, leaning down and wrapping her arms around her husband’s shoulders. She didn’t show him physical affection when anyone else was watching, but when they were alone he knew she wanted to touch him as much as possible.

“Just thinking.”

“You know that’s not good for you.”

He chuckled, holding her hands close to his chest. “It’s just … you know when someone’s said something important, only you can’t for the life of you remember what it was?”

“You think there was something like that?”

“No idea. But I have the feeling River was right, and it won’t be long before we see Mal and the others again.”

She slid around onto his lap, her lips close to his. “Then we don’t need to worry for a while, do we?”

“I guess.”

“So what did you give Hank?” she wanted to know.

“Oh, just an old sweater of mine. I figured maybe it was my smell that made young David Tam quieten down like he did.”

“I’d’ve thought it would make him run screaming.”

“Well, luckily, he ain’t old enough to run anywhere. Something we’ve got in common.”

“Mmn.” She studied his face, the openness she loved so much. “Our course locked in?”

“Locked in.”

“So we have a few minutes?” She undid the front of his shirt.

“A few.” He smiled. “How come you always get amorous after you’ve seen Mal Reynolds?” he asked.

“Oh, just lucky, I guess.”

“For me,” he agreed, and pulled her down to him, and then there were no words.

to be continued


Sunday, October 4, 2009 10:00 AM


Nice to see more of this story. Wondering where all these parts are going to lead to but know that something is being covered up. Loved the interaction between the kids.

Sunday, October 4, 2009 12:13 PM


Loved this chapter. And knowing you, something is going to happen.

Sunday, October 4, 2009 11:35 PM


Nice to see a little MAYA goodness and all the sleepy children made me smile. Wondering what is going to happen that will bring them back into each other's orbit. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Monday, October 5, 2009 12:01 AM


*big, round eyes* More, please!

Monday, October 5, 2009 5:01 AM


Hee hee... Loved the sweetest here and the visual of young Mal putting thins up his nose was just funny. :) Nicely written and worth the wait. :)


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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 ...]

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!]

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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!]

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!]