Interludes: Making Mischief
Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Maya. Post-BDM. Third in the short series. River and Hank discuss jobs, and Mal thinks on paternity. NEW


There was something about it. The way it seemed to go on forever, unchanging and inviolate.

She shook her head, frowning slightly. Hyperbole. Using two words where one would do. Redundancy. Using two words that meant the same. Did that mean they cancelled each other out? Was space collapsing around her, and she would wink out of existence, at the same time as expanding back to infinity in an unending oscillation? Or –


River looked around at Hank, standing in the doorway, his hands on his hips, his untidy brown hair lifted indignantly. She was surprised how well it matched the expression on his face.

“Hello,” she said, smiling at him.

“No.” He raised a hand, shaking a finger at her. “No. You don’t go saying hello. Not when we’ve talked about this.”

“Talked about what?” She widened her eyes.

“You know exactly.” His thumb jerked. “Out.”

“Ah.” She slid from the pilot’s chair and shimmied into the other.

“Better.” Sitting down on his rightful throne, Hank scanned the board automatically, reaching out to correct a warning light. But she was quicker, her hand almost a blur. “Dammit, River!”

She was immediately contrite. “Sorry.”

“’Cept you aren’t, are you, else you wouldn’t do it.”

She stared down at her bare feet, lifting them up to perch on the edge of the seat, as if trying to make herself as inconspicuous as possible. “Sorry,” she said again, her voice even more so.

He felt like a heel. “Look, River, it’s what I do.” She still wasn’t looking at him, her face hidden behind her curtain of hair. He went on, “I can’t shoot to save my life, not like you and Jayne, or anyone else on this ship, pretty much. And my stitching’s so bad I'm not gonna threaten Simon. As for the engine room ...” He paused. “Well, maybe I can hold my own there, but nowhere near Kaylee’s skills. But you and Frey, you’re always up here, wanting to fly.”

“We like it,” she pointed out, flexing her toes to a perfect ballet point before lifting her head to gaze at him. “And you’re getting better with a gun.”

“Only thanks to Frey.”

“But better.”

“Okay, I’ll give you that. But I ain’t even Captain, so unless you consider me just Zoe’s plaything – and I'm not going to say that’s not a pleasant thought, so you can close your mouth right now – then all I am is a pilot. A damn good one, too. But that’s me. What I do. Pilot Hank.”

“Not all.”

“Okay, we can add failed writer. Woop de doo.” He hadn’t meant to let bitterness taint his words, but there was a flavour nonetheless. His skin pinked. “Sorry. Didn’t mean that to come out the way it did.”

“Not all,” River repeated. “You are husband. Father. Friend. Family.” She shrugged. “And pilot,” she added grudgingly.

“Then why’re you always trying to do what Mal occasionally pays me for?”

“Mal is captain. And he distributes evenly.” There was the fastest of twitches to her lips. “Besides, he sits up here.”

“Like you said, he’s captain. He doesn’t take any notice when I tell him to leave.”

“Are you telling me to go?” She tried the puppy-dog eyes with just a hint of Bethie’s patented lip tremble, then wondered if she hadn’t gone too far.

Hank, however, seemed to take it at face value. “Aw, River ...”

“Then I’m not being ordered off the bridge?” she asked hopefully.

“Diyu ...” He shook his head. “Course not, River. Not when you like it so much. Just ... let me do my job, okay?”

“Okay.” She turned back to the stars, a small smile on her face only the dinosaurs were privy to.

“So what is it about that out there you like so much, anyway?” Hank asked, apparently wanting to make conversation to fill the gaps between seconds.

“It calms me.”

“You having a bad day?”

Where once the crew would have kept out of her way if she was, indeed, having a bad day, now they were much more solicitous. “No. But Jayne has toothache, and won't go and see Simon.”

“Oh, that why he was scowling so much at breakfast?”

She nodded. “Yes. I offered to remove the offending dental protuberance, but he refused.”

“I think most would, honey. No offence.”

“None taken. But he’s all sharp and pointy at the moment.”

“As opposed to being a sugar bear?”

“Peppermint puppy,” River corrected, her grin warm and infectious.

Hank laughed. “You know, I don’t think I'm gonna call him that. Least, not when Zoe’s not around.”

“Good idea.” River sighed. “So I’m waiting until this evening.”

“What’s this evening?”


“You mean ...”

“I shall withhold sexual favours until he gets the tooth seen to.”

“Right.” Hank shifted in his seat slightly.

“It will be difficult, because I have a high libido, but I shall be able to manage for a night. Possibly two.”

“River ...”

She grinned again. “Sorry. But he has to see Simon.”

“So you’re up here to get away?”


“Then I don’t mind.”

“Thank you.”

Hank relaxed a little. “You know, you say the stars comfort you. They don’t exactly do the same for your bro.”

“Simon is getting better. One day he will embrace it as I do. As Mal does.”

“Yeah, our captain surely loves the Black, doesn’t he?” Something glowed in Hank’s mind. “You know, I’ve been figuring. We know your Pa wasn't your Pa, but have you ever considered who was?”

“On occasion.” She knew what he was going to say, but wanted to hear him say it.

“And it occurred to me that there’s just an outside chance Mal might’ve been the donor. Being a potential and all.” He grinned. “You never know.”

“Don’t you go putting ideas into her head,” the man himself said from behind them,

Hank’s blush deepened, but by sheer force of will he didn’t spin his seat around. “Oh, hey, Mal.” He stared at one of the brilliant points of light outside, his gaze fixed.


“You been there long?”

“Long enough.”


River smiled at the two men. “Hank was just making mischief.”

“I conjure I was aware of that,” Mal said, before adding, “Still say you shouldn’t be thinking on those lines.”

“They were already in residence,” she admitted. “But I checked. There is only a 0.769434 convergence of our DNA.”

“And what would that mean?” he asked, curious in spite of himself.

“About average. We share a sexual coupling some hundred generations back, but nothing more.” She sighed. “Jayne’s has more commonality with mine.”

“That’s slightly disturbing.”

“Not enough, though. And everyone shares their common ancestor somewhen.”

His lips tilted. “Somewhen, huh?”

“Yes,” she confirmed. “So you’re not my father.”

“Have to say, I'm kinda sorry about that, xiao nu.”

“As am I. Lost children must come home.”

“You still lost?” His eyebrows showed his surprise.

“No. I am grounded. My feet are in the earth, toes grasping tree roots, even as my head is in the clouds.”

“The stars, more like,” Hank groused, but only quietly.

“Besides, I have my Jayne, my rock. And you.”

“If he’s your rock – although I have to say it’s an appropriate description sometimes – I hate to think what you’d be calling me.”

Jia yan.”

He smiled. “So what lost children are you thinking on? Less Zoe’s managed to lose track of Ben again.”

River didn’t speak for a long moment, just stared over Mal’s left shoulder until he wanted to fidget. Then she shrugged delicately, returning her eyes to his. “General, I think.”

“It becomes more than that, you let me know, dong mah? Can't be having kids wandering the ‘verse on their own.”

“Yes, Captain.” She saluted, quite an impressive feat since she was still sitting in the same position.

“That’s all very well, but –”

A voice interrupted him from somewhere, slipping through ventilation ducts and disturbing access panels. “Ben! Ben, you come here right now!”

River grinned.

Hank, on the other hand, sighed deeply. “Zoe,” he supplied.

“I kinda figured that,” Mal said. “Seeing as I knew her a while before you did.”

“Bathtime,” River put in. “Ben does not want a bath.”

“He needs it.” Mal smiled. “Seeing as he was painting with the other kids most of the afternoon, and he got more on him than on the paper.”

“Good job he wants to follow his dad and be a pilot, then,” Hank responded, standing up. “And I’d better go help my wife find my son and heir.”

“Heir to what, exactly?” Mal teased.

“My extensive literature collection.” Hank drew himself up as tall as he could, his untidy hair giving him an extra inch. “It’s going to be worth millions one day.” He stalked off the bridge.

“Don’t go holding your breath,” Mal commented, taking just a touch of perverse delight as his pilot accidentally caught his foot on the lip of the door and nearly pitched headfirst down the steps. He caught himself in time, and carried on as if nothing untoward had happened.

“You shouldn’t,” River whispered.

“He didn’t come to any harm.” Mal sat down in the vacated seat, its warmth somewhat disconcerting. “He gonna find Ben?”

“Eventually. He’s hiding in my garden.”

“He eating the strawberries?”

“Not ripe yet. But he is digging.”

“And getting dirtier by the second, I’ll be bound.”

“Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.”

“One of Frey’s sayings?”

“Yes.” Suddenly she sat up. “Oh.”

“What is it?” Mal quickly checked the control panel in front of him, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. “Albatross?”

“Jayne. He’s sneaked into the infirmary for a painkiller, and Simon’s caught him.”

“There gonna be blood? Entrails?”

“I hope not.” She was on her feet in a flash, off the bridge even quicker.

“if there is, you can clean it up,” he called after her, but if she heard she didn’t reply.

He smiled and turned back to the stars, tapping the buffer panel warning light, just out of habit, to see if it would go out. It didn't, but then neither was it important in the grand scheme of things. No matter what fell off his ship, or didn’t, the stars remained the same. Somehow he found that thought ... calming.


Thursday, May 27, 2010 3:16 AM


"No. I am grounded. My feet are in the earth, toes grasping tree roots, even as my head is in the clouds." This reminds me of one of the first verse of one of my favorite songs.. "I am the Goddess. My feet are rooted. Deep within the earth. My head among the stars. My crown the Universe." :) I am so happy you posted this. I really liked seeing Hank get kinda bent out of shape that Freya and River want to do his job. It's cute.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 6:39 AM


And I loved the end....

“There gonna be blood? Entrails?”

“I hope not.” She was on her feet in a flash, off the bridge even quicker.

“if there is, you can clean it up,” he called after her, but if she heard she didn’t reply.

I can so see this going on. At least the y are close to the infirmary in case anything bad happens. LOL!

Thursday, June 3, 2010 4:12 AM


This is cute. :)

I can see Hank's point, but I also don't see the harm in letting River fly. She likes it, and I can't imagine she'll ever be as good as Hank at, say complicated evasive maneuvers, being that's an ingrained intuitive pilot thing. The only thing to watch out for is if she's a little bit loopy at the time and runs them into an asteroid.

But ah well, that's also Hank's place, and he probably doesn't want anyone messing with it. I bet Wash was huffy about people touching his dinosaurs, too, I've heard that he was pretty fussy about the pilots chair (or at least Alan was). The chair and spot, the role, the niche. Claimed.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 6:35 AM


Lovely. There is always such a nice energy between River and Mal and you capture it so well. Loved Hank being grumpy to start with on finding River commandeering his rightful place then relenting somewhat. These stories are like a set of well worn and much loved clothes. The fit is perfect. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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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!]