Masks - Part XVIII
Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Maya. Post-BDM. Val and Flynn, and Freya's reaction. Don't worry, folks - we're getting to the violence! NEW CHAPTER


“Oh, you’re back.” Inara was surprised to see Zoe and Kaylee in the sitting room of their suite, having an obviously deep and meaningful conversation. “Is it that time already?” She glanced at the clock, but that seemed to be wrong.

“We ... uh ... came back early,” Kaylee said, twisting her hair around her finger. “Wondered where you’d got to.”

“Oh, I just ... went for a walk.” Saffron was more than willing to talk, Inara had found out, particularly when the ex-Companion had used her wiles on her bodyguards and insisted they order tea and some of those delicious pastries, and now she knew rather more than she needed about some of the jobs the redhead had pulled. “I needed some fresh air.”

“Did it help?” Zoe asked.

“Excuse me?”

“With your headache?”

“Oh, yes. It’s completely gone.” Inara looked around the room. “Where are the others?”

Kaylee’s wide eyes seemed to glow. “Well, Phoebe’s in her room, Flynn’s ... well, I'm not actually sure where he is, ‘cause he stormed off when we got back, and Frey’s talking to Val.”


“Mmn.” Kaylee glanced at Zoe, then giggled, hiding her mouth behind her hand.

“What about? And why did Flynn storm off?”

“Well ...”

“There’s something going on here I don't know about, isn’t there?”

“Could be.”

“Did everyone come back early?”

“No,” Zoe explained. “Just us. Kaylee made faces at the shuttle pilot and got him to bring us up ahead of time.”

“I did not!” the young mechanic blustered. “I just asked.”


“Can I help it if the puppy-dog eyes worked even better on him than on the Cap’n?”

“That’s only because he lets you get away with it.”

“That’s ‘cause I’m his mei-mei.” Kaylee sounded extremely satisfied.

Inara was beginning to feel frustrated. “Can someone please tell me what’s going on?” she demanded, her hands on her hips.

This time Zoe smiled, the slow grin that indicated something had amused her greatly. “Well ...”

A little while before, down on Aegis …

In the darkness of Ling Miao Freya could barely catch her breath. “What the diyu is going on?” She stared at Val and Flynn, the light from her torch catching the flares in both their cheeks.

“Aunt Frey, it’s not what you think,” Val said quickly, trying to push her hair back into place.

“Well, I’m pretty glad of that, because what I think is that you two have been playing us all for fools.”

“No, no, it’s not like that.” The older Reilly twin stepped forward. “We ... Flynn ...” She glanced at the young man when she couldn’t find the right words.

“You and Flynn ... what?” Freya asked, feeling her foot wanting to begin tapping.

Val knew the look, had seen it perhaps twice when her Aunt was angry with someone, generally her Uncle Mal, and didn’t particularly want to be on the receiving end of it.

“Freya, we haven’t done anything,” Flynn put in, moving forward to stand next to Val.

“Only because I got here first.” Freya nodded pointedly towards Val’s bodice, where she was showing somewhat more pale flesh than the dress strictly allowed.

Val glanced down, reddening even more. She adjusted the fabric quickly. “We were just kissing,” she said, a trace of sullenness creeping into her voice.

“And yesterday you were ready to tear each other’s heads off, not your clothes.”

“We didn’t plan this,” Flynn said, reaching out to put his hand around Val’s waist but dropping it quickly at Freya’s glare. “Val wanted to see inside, I thought it better to come with her, and ...”

“And what?”

“It just happened.” He stuck his chin forward defiantly, looking more like his mother than ever.

“So you both decided at the same time.”


Freya glared at them, then flicked the torch. “Outside. Both of you.”

“Aunt Frey –” Val tried.

“No. Not now. Outside.”


Appraising Zoe and Kaylee quickly of the situation, Phoebe standing back but listening with her mouth so wide open it was lucky Aegis didn’t have flies, Freya waited for the others to be as angry as she was.

Unfortunately, they disappointed her.

“They were only kissing,” Kaylee pointed out. “Hell, done enough of that before I was Val’s age. And more.”

“I was already a soldier,” Zoe added. “And if they were only kissing ...”

“Then! Only kissing then! Who knows what it would have led to?”

Kaylee grinned, but quickly suppressed it.

“And what were you doing when you were eighteen?” Zoe asked, earning another glare.

“I hadn’t slept with anyone! And that’s not the point.”

“Isn’t it?”

“You’re supposed to back me up.”

“Even if you’re wrong?”

“What’s wrong with kissing?” Kaylee asked. “And if they like each other –” At Freya’s look she decided it was safer to not say another word on the subject, instead choosing to wipe some of the sweat off her forehead.

“Damn place,” Freya muttered. “I think we need to get back so we can discuss this in private.”


Freya almost stomped down the corridor towards their suite, virtually colliding with a man as he turned away from them. She only noted his black hair before passing him with a brusque apology, her mind full of all the words she wanted to say, and stopped outside their door. “Inside,” she ordered.

Only raising her eyebrow, Zoe went in first, the others trailing after her. All except for Flynn.

“I need a drink,” he announced, striding away from them towards one of the many bars.

“Flynn –” Val began.

“Let him go,” Zoe said quietly, just touching her arm. “It ain't like he can go that far.”

Inside the suite, Freya turned to the others, her gaze fixing on Val. “Go to your room. I’ll be up in a minute.”

“Aunt Frey, I don’t –” She was about to say she was old enough – and rich enough – to make her own decisions, but the look on the other woman’s face was enough to stop the words up behind her teeth. “Yes, Aunt Frey.” She turned on her heel and almost ran out of the room.

“You too,” Freya said to Phoebe.

The second Reilly twin looked scandalised. “Why? I wasn’t playing tonsil hockey with anyone.”


“Okay, I’m going. Still don’t see why I can’t be around for the fireworks.”

“Because there aren’t going to be any.” She walked purposefully out.


“... and that’s pretty much where you came in.”

Inara, sitting now on the big armchair, stared at the two women. “Val and Flynn?”

“Yep,” Kaylee said. “And I think they make a cute couple.”

“Is Freya really that angry about it?”

“Oh yes,” the woman in question said, coming into the room. “Freya really is that angry about it.”


“Because she should have said!” Freya dropped onto the sofa, but was up again in a moment, pacing. “I’m supposed to be looking after her, and she just goes and ...”

“What?” Inara sat forward. “Decides to have a good time?”

“With Flynn!”

“What’s wrong with Flynn?”

“Nothing. Except she hates him!”

“Love and hate ...” Inara mused for a moment. “You know, I’ve always thought there was such a very thin line between those two emotions sometimes.”

Freya stared at her. “You’re not saying she loves him.”

“Not at all. But he’s different. Exciting. I think that’s why they were fighting, sublimating the attraction into something else entirely.”

“He’s supposed to be her bodyguard.”

“Just guarding it a different way,” Kaylee put in chirpily.

Freya ignored her. “It’s his job.”

“Can’t it be fun too?” Zoe asked.


Inara sighed. “Oh, Frey, don’t be such a prude.”

“A ...”

“It’s not like Val’s betrothed to some Alliance bigwig who won’t accept her unless she’s untouched. She’s a vibrant, lovely young woman who wants to live a little. And if she wants to do some of that with Flynn, why not?” Inara took half a breath. “Isn’t that what they came on this cruise for?”

“Inara ...”

“It’s upset your little view of the world, hasn’t it?” Inara said, this time keeping her tone gentle. “No matter that you’re Freya Reynolds, there’s still a little part of you inside that’s Elena Rostov, that believes money should marry money.”

Freya was shocked. “I don’t!”

“No? Because you’re giving a very good impression of it.”

Freya stared at her, her mouth opening and closing like a fish, then she turned on her heel and stalked out of the room

“Where’s she going?” Kaylee asked in a stage whisper to Zoe.

“On past experience, to talk to Mal.”

“Talk? Oh, you mean ...” Kaylee tapped her own temple.


“You think he’s going to be on her side?”

Zoe didn’t answer, but the smile was back in place.


Mal was laughing. No matter that they weren’t in the same room, or even the same ship, but more miles apart than she cared to think, but she just knew he was laughing. His thoughts were tinged with the flavour, and in all honesty it was making her mad. Well, madder than she already was.

“It’s not funny!” she insisted, saying the words out loud to emphasise them.

Sure it is, ai ren. He looked out at the stars through the bridge window, taking the late watch, but all he could see was her face. And yes, he was laughing.

“And you knew!” Now her mental tone was accusing.

Well, truth is, River and Bethie both let the cat outta the bag. They couldn’t wait to tell everyone. Jayne and Hank ain’t stopped chuckling yet.

They will when I see them.

He shrugged, even though she couldn’t tell. You wanted to take him on. Give him that second chance you insisted on. And I reckon he’s taken hold of it with both hands.

She’s eighteen!

And he ain’t that much older, for all he’s done in that short life. And I thought this cruise was meant for the girls to experience life a little? Or were you lying to me?

I didn’t mean with him!

Ain't that a trifle double standards? He didn’t often argue with her, knowing her temper when it occasionally flared, and that she was usually more right than wrong, so in this instance he wondered why he was coming down on Flynn’s side. He went on, All people are equal, remember? Or were you fighting a war for a different reason?

But they hate each other.

From what you told me, I don't think that’s the case no more.

In her bedroom on the Empress Freya was pacing, wearing the carpet out beneath her boots. No. I don’t think it is. She sighed and virtually fell onto the bed, speaking the words now as well as she laid down and stared into the ceiling. “Zoe’s as bad as you. Kaylee thinks it’s funny. And Inara’s positively gushing.”

He had to chuckle at her tone, but made an effort, his mental taste reverting to more normal tones as he spoke. “Sorry, xin gan. I know it ain’t fair of me. You’re trying to deal with it, and I'm not helping.”

Her own anger faded. “No, I'm sorry. And I suppose it is funny.”

“You given Val a piece of your mind yet?”

“No. I said we were going to talk, and I tried, but she was being so bull-headed ... pretty much like you, in fact ... so I ... ” She sounded sheepish, even in his mind. “Honestly I’m leaving her to stew for a while.”

“That’s cruel.” He tempered his words with a soft laugh. “And so unlike you.”

“She made me mad.”

“You could always let Inara deal with her.”

“I told you, Inara thinks it’s all in fun.”

“Maybe she does, and the truth is it probably ain’t much more than that. I doubt Flynn’s the love of her life, no matter what Val thinks now.”

“Oh to be eighteen again.”

“Crewing on a Lancaster,” he reminded her. She gave a reluctant laugh as his words echoed Zoe’s, and he relaxed. “Frey, honey, take my advice. Let Inara deal with Val, even if it’s only another talk on the birds and the bees.”

“You don’t think –”

“No, I don’t. They ain't had the chance, ‘less they’ve been deceiving the lot of you.”

She thought for a moment, then realised neither Val nor Flynn had the capability – or the desire – to fool any of them. “No. I think the antagonism was all too real.”

“Then I don’t think it’s gone that far. But you make out like you’re banning ‘em from seeing each other, and you could be pushing ‘em into it.”

There was a silence. Then ... “When did you get to be so wise?”

“I'm captain. It comes with the territory. ‘Sides, it’s usually your counselling me to be less ... bull in a china shop.”

The laugh was fuller, tinged with passion. “You hate those sayings.”

“With a vengeance. ‘Cept when I’m talking to you.”

“Mal, zhang fu, you haven’t heard anything yet.” She grinned.


A floor below, another conversation was going on.

“Are you sure it’s her?”

“I don’t forget a face, Aiden. You know that.”

“She didn’t recognise you?”

“Nope. Too angry, it seemed to me.”

“And she’s shacked up with the woman who’s taken to visiting our target.”

“Yep. I asked around about her, like you asked. That one used to be a Companion.”

“Really. Now that could be fun. Woman like that’d know all sorts of tricks. And still be worth money at the end.”

“Aiden ...”

“Oh, it’s all right, Jarrett. But I won’t turn it down if it comes knocking.” There was a pause. “Everything else set?”

“All done. Nobody’s gonna know a thing until it’s too late.”

“Good. Now, you get back. We’ll be in The Halo tonight, and Chester’s already chomping at the bit to get this job done.”

“Okay, Aiden.”

to be continued


Wednesday, February 17, 2010 5:41 AM


Oh Freya, Freya, Freya! She is 18! So glad to see Mal talk her down off of her high horse. I really like everyone else's response to the situation as well and I am curious to see what those two guards have in store for the ladies of Serenity.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 11:51 AM


Those guards don't sound too friendly. I don't want anything to happen to Freya and Inara but I know you....

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 3:48 PM


How do they know Freya? Have we met Aiden before as a bad guy? Or is he a new bad guy? How far is Serenity from them? How much violence are you planning? Is this why you gave Zoe a bad arm? Inquiring minds have been patient enough already... Looking forward to more.

Thursday, February 18, 2010 12:23 PM


You are definitely finding your groove again. I am liking the mystery with Freya and these strange new villains. What's next or am I afraid to ask knowing the way you like to twist things?! :)


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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
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[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!]

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!]