Indigo - Part XVI
Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Maya. Post-BDM. In which River apologises, Zoe has a heart to heart with Mal, and Freya shows her husband how she sees Cason's Point. NEW CHAPTER


Jayne stared into nothing, his rifle perched against the weights bench he was sitting on. He didn’t need to clean it, had done so the day before after he’d shot the deer, after he’d run through the long grasses to try and save Hank’s life.

But the pilot wasn’t the person on his mind. She was. His wife. His moonbrain. The mother of his child. His River.

It wasn’t what she’d done, at least not in the most part. If she’d told him what she’d planned, she could probably have persuaded him it was a good idea, or if she couldn’t, at least he could have gone with her. Protected her. Not that she needed it, being a weapon herself, but he’d never be able to get past the times when she had a bad day, and he was all that stood between her and a spell in the infirmary, juiced up to the gills and strapped to the medbed.

It was the fact that she’d not trusted him. No. Not even that. That she hadn’t even thought to tell him. Like he meant nothing. Like his opinions meant nothing. She was a genius, that was undeniable, but sometimes she was more stupid than ... than the most stupid person he’d ever met. And considering the circles he used to travel in, that was pretty stupid.

His stomach grumbled but he ignored it. Food, whilst normally a very important part of his life, wasn’t an issue right now.

She’d been gone a while. He didn’t have a timepiece on him, but his internal clock told him it had been longer than a few minutes. Maybe Mal had torn her off a strip, or maybe she’d done the puppy dog eyes on him and he’d relented. Somehow, Jayne wished it was the former.

A sound to his left made him sit still, even more so than before. It sounded like ... rain.

“She’s sorry.”

He turned his head slowly, the bones in his neck seeming to grind so loud he was sure she could hear them.

She stood in the common area doorway, his rainstick in her small hands, moving it slowly backwards and forwards, making it sing.

“Are yah?”

“Yes.” River stepped over the lip, the sound of rain on Serenity’s roof following her. “And it was not her Jayne’s fault. He is important. More important than anything in her life.”

“Really.” He dropped his gaze back to his hands. “So important you can’t even talk properly to me.”

“She’s ... I’m sorry.”

He knew she was next to him, could smell her perfume, feel her heartbeat pulsing through the small amount of air between them. “Mal tell you to tell me that?”

“No.” She dropped to her knees into his line of sight. “I made you angry. Hurt you. Sorry.”

“You didn’t think about me at all, did you?”

“Yes. But I wanted to do something by myself. Prove myself.”

He gazed at her. “To who? Me? Mal? ‘Cause we know what you can do. Don’t have to prove a rutting thing.”

“Sometimes I think I don’t exist.” She stopped rolling the stick, and the cargo bay became silent again.

“You’re River. A’course you exist.”

“Too many other things, and all of them broken.”

He shook his head. “Riv, if you’re trying to get round me –”

“No. Just explain. There were too many reasons as to why I wanted to do this on my own. To prove that I could. To be me. To not have to ask permission. To ...” She stopped.

“Go on, moonbrain,” he urged, knowing they were getting to the nub of the matter.

“To win praise.” Her face took on an aspect of youth, and his heart jerked painfully in his chest when he realised this must have been how she looked when she left to go to the Academy, before they took away her childhood. “To have someone say ‘well done’.”

“You mean Mal.”

“No. Yes. Everyone. You.” The words fell over each other.

He gazed at her, her fragility, her steel, and realised there was no point in being mad. River was who she was, and what she was ... was with him. “You gonna do it again?”

She shrugged delicately. “I’ll try not to.”

She was a gift, and she’d given herself to him. There was the distinct possibility that one day she’d take it into her mind to gut him, to cut his heart out with a spoon. but he wasn’t about to do it to himself. “Okay.” He swept her into his arms, bruising her lips with his. After what seemed like forever, he pulled himself away to ask her a question that seemed necessary. “Why the stick, Riv? Maybe you were thinking of hitting me with it if I didn’t accept your apology?”

She snuggled against him. “Rain.”

“Yeah, that’s what it sounds like.”

“No. Rayne. River and Jayne. Rain/Rayne. Together. Forever.”

“That was it is?”

“Mmn.” She hummed, the slight vibration transferring from her to him, then suddenly she stilled.


Her head snapped around and she stared towards the infirmary.


Zoe found Mal on the bridge, staring out at Cason’s Point. She slid into the other seat, her back ramrod straight as always.

“Busy, sir?” she asked.

“Not so’s you’d notice.” He glanced at her. “How’s Hank?”

“Simon says he’s stable.”

“Any sign of him waking up?”

“Not so far.”

“Won’t be long, I'm sure.”

“No, sir.” She paused for a long moment. “Things don’t change much, do they, sir?” she went on.

“Depends on the things.” If she’d sought him out she wanted to talk, and he was going to give her every opportunity.

“People getting shot. Places like this ...” She nodded towards the windows. “Looking pretty on the outside but only floating on an ocean of poison.”

“You been spending time with River again?” His lips curved, just a little.

“She just told me what she did. And why.”


River had splashed water on her face then had explained about Medea, about the information she’d got from the old woman.

“She has this dichotomy over her sons,” the psychic had said. “Wes and Brad. She loves them because they’re blood of her blood, but despises them for being weak at the same time. Her mind is full of her other son, Troy.”

“The dead one,” Mal put in.

“Yes. He was the apple of her eye, the sunshine in her day, the moonlight in her ...” She coughed, probably at the look on Mal’s face, then went on quickly, “Her mental walls are strong, quite naturally, because she doesn’t trust anyone at all, but I think she knows about most of her sons’ activities, perhaps even directs them, and thereby profits by them.”

“Sounds like a peach.”

River put her head slightly onto one side. “Peaches have a stone hard centre, so yes, I think perhaps that would describe her very well.” She slid the hundred platinum coin carefully across the old wood of the kitchen table. “Here.”

“What’s that?”

“Blood money. Medea gave it to me.”

“You don’t want it?”

“It screams.”

“You want I should put it in Ben’s bag?” He was referring to the small sacks in the safe, one for each of the children, an extra coin added whenever they had a good payday.

“No. Too ...” She stopped.

He’d looked at her, studied the lines of her face, her dark chocolate eyes, and understood without her having to finish. “I’ll use it to pay for our docking fees.”

She’d nodded, happy enough not to have it in her possession any longer.

Now, though, Mal said to Zoe, “I’m guessing she told you I was mad.”

“Yes, sir.” She swivelled the seat so she could look him fully in the face. “We don’t have to stay. Not for me. Hank’s alive, and with Simon’s help he’s going to keep on living, at least until I decide I’m tired of him.” Her own lips ghosted a smile, but it was gone as soon as it arrived. “Jayne might not be happy, but we can leave.”

“My life don’t revolve around keeping Jayne happy, Zo.” He gazed at her. “Someone shot Hank.”

“That they did, sir.”

"So is this what you want? Us to run, leave whoever did it to get away with it?”

“What I want is to rip the man who shot him into pieces. And I know you know exactly what I mean, Mal.”

His first name. As always, only used when she was making a definite point. “Yeah, Zoe,” he said quietly. “I do.” Too many days – and nights – sitting by Freya’s side, praying that Xavier Wing hadn’t succeeded in his attempt to kill her in the worst imaginable way. No. That was a lie. He could imagine worse, but that was real, had happened, her body broken in almost every way possible, and he could still feel the hard deck beneath his knees as he prayed to a God he wasn’t sure was listening that she’d not leave him. “So you think I’m making a mistake?”

He knew she’d tell him, like all the other times she’d disagreed in the past few years. Oddly enough, though, more since he’d been with Freya, so maybe it was a sign he’d mellowed.

For a long moment she didn’t answer, her eyes on him, barely even blinking. Then, just as he was starting to get uncomfortable ...


“I guess.”

“We don’t need to start another war, sir.”

“Don't recall starting it the first time. ‘Less my memory’s getting really bad.”

“You forgot where you left Ethan.”

“That was Jayne’s fault!” Going to a store with the ex-merc a few years back, his baby son in the sling across his chest, he’d been persuaded to hand him to the shop owner’s wife to bill and coo over while he haggled about prices. Then Jayne had started an argument concerning their potential purchases, and they’d still been disagreeing as they walked out, parcels in their arms. It took Mal half the street to realise something was missing, then another ten yards to figure out what.

“She forgave you.”

“Eventually.” He sighed. “Zoe, to tell the honest, I don’t know what to do. Someone attacked a member of my crew, my family ... coulda left Ben without a father and you without a husband.” Again, he added mentally, but she knew him well enough to be able to tell what was going through his mind.

“It’s not the same,” she said quietly but firmly. “Wash was doing what he thought was right. And you gave him the choice, just like the rest of us. He chose to fly.”

“Only because he knew what would happen to us if I did in his stead.”

“That’s it?” She smiled ruefully. “Why you’ve held onto the guilt for so long? ‘Cause you think he did it out of some sense of obligation?”

“Well, didn't he?”

Zoe shook her head. “Mal, I could just as well say he went because I did. And that’s the truth too. But it’s still not all the truth.” She turned away to stare back out at the town again. “He did what he did for a whole host of reasons, including the fact that he saw the recording just like the rest of us, and it made him want to do something about it. Your way was the only way, so he followed. I know for a fact that he’d rather’ve not ended up going out like that, but ... you need to let go of the guilt.” She glanced at him. “’Cause, frankly, it’s getting old.”

He laughed, surprised by her yet again. “Zoe, you make me feel ashamed.”

“Not my plan, sir.” She stood up. “Just letting you know you have other options.” She walked off the bridge, every bit the Amazon warrior Wash had always said she was.

He waited, and it was only a minute before he heard another voice behind him.

“Is that what you’re going to do?” Freya leaned over him, her arms wrapped around his upper chest.

“I figured you might be peeking.” He put his hand on hers.

“It’s become somewhat habit forming,” she admitted, her breath making the small hairs at the nape of his neck stand on end. “Well?”

“Us flyin’ out of here?”


He pulled her around so she could sit in his lap, and gazed into her hazel eyes. “Not sure. There’s pros and cons.”

“Not really.”

“You think?”

“I know you, Mal.” She ran her fingers down his cheek, feeling his beard beginning to press through the skin. “If you leave this and run away ... it will eat at you. And you’ll always wonder if there wasn’t something more at work here.”

He had to smile slightly. “I know I call you a witch sometimes, but ... damn, it fits.”

“Not that my spells or potions are working,” she said, her lips thinning as her eyebrows drew down, looking as frustrated as her daughter did sometimes. “I still can’t see who did this.”

He put his hand under her chin. “Frey. This talk you’re going to give Bethie and Ethan – it goes double for you.”

“But I –”

“No, you don’t. If we stay – and I ain’t decided yet – well, then I’ve got an idea who’s responsible, so you just stop.”

She glared at him, then deflated. “Nothing’s working anyway. Not about that, anyway.”

“So what do you see?”

“Cason’s Point is sick,” she said bluntly.

“Sick?” Zoe had said pretty much the same thing.

“It’s like ...” She was trying to think of the words to describe a feeling, an impression, like attempting to explain a 3D image to a man born blind.

“Can you ... show me?” Something they’d done in the past, although mostly when apart, and for other more pleasurable reasons.

She gazed into his blue eyes, her own full of indecision, then nodded. “Okay.”

“Shiny. Do you need me to lie down or something?”

A soft smile gathered on her lips. “That won’t be necessary.”


Pushing very gently at his shoulder, she said, “You do realise you’re incorrigible, don’t you?”

“One of my more lovable traits.”

“You carry on believing that.”

He chuckled, the resonance running up his chest and through her as well. “So what do I do?”

“Nothing. Although closing your eyes might help.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Promise you’re not going to do anything to me whilst I can’t see.”

It was obvious she was trying not to laugh. “Mal, I sleep next to you. I could do anything I want.”

He shivered in anticipated pleasure. “That sounds ... intriguing.”

“And a conversation for another day.”

“I’ll be holding you to that.” He grinned. “Okay.” Closing his eyes he added, somewhat unnecessarily, “Ready.”

Gazing at his long eyelashes fluttering slightly against his cheeks, she let her walls drop, her mind open.

Mal could feel her presence, always there inside him (unless she was really mad at him and the couch was in his immediate future), and his breath hitched as it became more tangible, almost physical. An image began to form of the town, just as he had seen it a few moments ago through Serenity’s windows, but then the viewpoint shifted, moving higher, until the entire vista of Cason’s Point was laid out in front of him like a map. If he concentrated he was sure he’d be able to see the people, little sparks of life moving through the streets and houses, but that wasn’t what he was here for. Still, there were glows, brighter in some places like Addie’s saloon, less in the outskirts.

A glow over the cemetery gave him momentary pause, and he wondered if Frey was picking up on the ghostly inhabitants six feet deep in their graves, and was about to ask, but his view moved higher still, taking in the foothills surrounding much of the town. He was, as always, amazed at her talents, and felt her presence warm as she picked up on his thoughts. He hoped that, if he opened his eyes, she’d be smiling, her cheeks touched with pink, but he didn’t want to break what she’d created.

Instead he just whispered, “Witch.”

Concentrate, she murmured in his mind, but it was a loving caress, not an order, that stirred other things. Mal.

He smiled, but the picture was changing anyway. He only had time to register a tiny glow of life where Mallory’s place must be, and another not far from it in the hills overlooking the town before a grey cloud, shot through with red and black, made everything monochrome and indistinct, spreading across the town from the Tanner residence until there was nothing but thunderheads.

“Well, that’s pretty conclusive,” Mal muttered, feeling the need to clear his throat first. “Looks like it does boil down to Medea and her brood.” He opened his eyes, then lifted his hand to stroke at the taut little lines between Freya’s brows. “Enough now, ai ren.”

She came back, recognition blooming again. “Did you see?”

“Yeah. I saw.” The arm around her waist tightened. “That what you see? All the time?”

“Not all the time. But if I don’t keep my walls up ... occasionally,” she finally admitted.

“Then what I said before, about your talk to the kids going double for you ... make that triple. Quadruple. More.”

She smiled, the tension in her shoulders evaporating. “I love you.”

“Yeah?” He pulled her down towards him. “That’s good. ‘Cause I kinda feel the same.”

“Only kinda?”

His lips worked at her neckline, pushing at the soft cotton of her shirt, and she sighed against him. He prayed it was always going to be like this. Her love had made him whole, in more ways than one, and he hoped he had repaid the favour. They were two halves of the same coin, soulmates as River claimed. Finding each other in every one of their lifetimes until –

“Do you want me to come back?”

Mal didn't move, just saying, “Yes.”

“Then you don’t want to know that Hank’s waking up?”

Both Mal and Freya whipped their heads around to stare at River, standing in the bridge doorway, her dark eyes huge. Her hands were clasped behind her back, but her foot was tapping very pointedly.

to be continued


Tuesday, May 3, 2011 12:19 PM


Love, love, LOVE this, Jane0904. Lovely writing of Jayne and River also of Mal and Freya. I also thought it touching when Zoe told Mal to let go of the guilt over Wash and why, proving she really has moved on in the healing department though of course the love will always be there. And cheers, Hank's waking up! Bravo, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Friday, May 6, 2011 11:54 AM


Wonderful as always. I like River's impatience as well as her knack for interrupting with good news. It was good of Mal to see what Frey sees too. I think it will help him understand her even more.

Monday, May 9, 2011 10:15 AM


I like how Freya can visualize the network of the town, and Medea in the midst like a vengeful tendril-y presence (wait, that would be Medusa). With a name like that, though, her sons had better watch out. Do we know yet who's got the crew in their crosshairs?

Thanks as always, Jane-I followed every twist and turn of Blow the Man Down, your last epic Castlefic on, as well. Mt breath was bated.. Cheers, freeverse

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 5:28 PM


Briliant! bit confusing to start with, but still good!


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Monied Individual - Part VI
“This is one of those dreams, ain’t it? Where Jayne ends up riding an elephant and singing in Latin.” He looked at his crew again, all of whom were, at least metaphorically, drawing back from him. “Okay, so you don’t have those. Maybe I am going crazy after all.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters are keeping a lot of things up their sleeves, and Mal is determined to find out what.]

Monied Individual - Part V
“Well, let’s see. Hank and Kaylee are off seeing if they can get that generator back to strength, and Zoe’s watching out for ‘em. I ain’t letting Simon or River in the same room as Badger if I can help it, and as much fun as it could be seeing Inara trying to buckle on a gunbelt around that pregnancy of hers, it ain’t gonna happen. That leaves Sam, and I ain’t even gonna try and warp his sensibilities by suggesting he wear one.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Badger holds a tea party, Hank works for his living, and the results are in. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part IV
“Pleased to meet you,” Hank said, having to stop himself from wiping his hand down his pants. The touch of the other man’s hand had been like old paper, dry and brittle. It reminded him of one of the vids he’d watched recently, about a mummified corpse coming back to life. Except that was ridiculous.

[Maya. Post-BDM. It's time to meet the enem- sorry, family.]

Monied Individual - Part III
“You two really need to get a room.” Simon’s voice drifted through from the rear of the cargo bay.
“We had one,” Mal growled. “And you shouldn’t be listening in to private conversations.”
“Why not?” the doctor asked, walking towards them. “It seems to be the major preoccupation of this crew. When we’re not actually doing crime, of course.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The crew get their first sight of the Triskelion mansion, and Simon stirs the pot.]

Monied Individual - Part II
“I don’t know what you all have against me being rich. I’d share, you know that. But you seem determined to keep me poor!” He stormed out, the door crashing closed behind him.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The crew learn more about Hank's good fortune, and try to come to grips with the Triskelion family tree.]

“After we deliver the goods we can set Serenity down somewhere cold. See some real snow.”

Merry Christmas to everyone! Just another in my occasional series of Mal/Jayne conversations, this time with a season theme. Enjoy!

Monied Individual - Part I
Hank’s parents had died when he was young, and his grandmother had brought him up. Mal considered it was her fault he was the way he was, but that was unfair – Hank was who he was always destined to be. Or possibly he was meant to be someone else entirely.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A new story for your delectation and delight. Persephone, Badger and lawyers ... what could possibly go wrong?]

Secrets - Part XXVIII - Conclusion
River shook herself, turning from the rabbit hole. She didn’t feel like being Alice, and while Jayne’s grin sometimes made her think of the Cheshire Cat, the dormouse was asleep and likely to remain so. Of much more interest were the secrets. So many, some old, some new, some borrowed and some blue. And for once she didn’t care if she was referencing the Earth-that-was marriage ceremony. That wasn’t the point. Inara, the Bodens, Harper Lecomb and the Culver diamond, Randall Lecomb and his homicidal tendencies … all secrets, overlaid with the flavour of the Alliance and their need to control.
[Maya. Post-BDM. Secrets comes to a conclusion, but some are still waiting to see the light of day.]

Secrets- Part XXVII
“I don’t always trust him when he’s operating on Jayne. A slip of the scalpel, too many drugs, too little oxygen, and I would be a free woman. My worries. Not his thoughts. But he is my brother. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. And we have experienced them all.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Home stretch now on Secrets, with the crisis passed for now and decisions made. Thanks so much for those of you who have stuck with this!]

Secrets - Part XXVI
"Have you never done that? In all those times you were treating someone in the hospital, when you were the great Doctor Tam, didn’t you once tell less than the truth to someone if it made them feel less desperate?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Inara's fate, and what follows. My apologies for the wait!]