Monied Individual - Part I
Sunday, November 22, 2015

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?]


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.


Freya flexed her wrist. “Diyu, but that feels good.” She scratched, a look of bliss on her face.

“Stop that.”

“It itches.”

Simon shook his head. “Then go and wash it by all means, but if you break the skin it might get infected.”

Freya looked guilty, a family expression often seen on her children, such as the day a week before when her daughter had been accused of stealing cookies. Bethie still hadn’t forgiven her for blabbing. “Sorry.” She sat on the offending hand.

Simon smiled. “Do you want to keep the cast?” He held it out, neatly cut down one side.

“Mama?” It was Ethan, hovering in the doorway. “Can I have it?”

Freya laughed. “Be my guest.”

“Here.” Simon held it out to the little boy, who clutched it to his chest and ran for his bunk, grinning widely. “Any idea what he wants with it?”

“Not a clue.” She got down from the medbed.

“You do know it would have come off sooner if you hadn’t fallen.”

“That wasn’t my fault,” she insisted. “Jayne tackled me.”

“You decided to play.” He turned to put away the plaster saw. “Hoop ball was not obligatory.”

“You didn’t want to come in on Mal’s side, so I felt I had to.”

He glanced back. “Your notes are starting to rival Mal’s in thickness.”

“Oh, that’s low.” She smiled. “Any plans for Persephone?”

“No, not really. I’m still working on that formula.”

The smile slipped from Freya’s face. “You don’t trust me at all, do you?”

He didn’t move for a long moment, then slowly turned on his heel to look at her. “No. Honestly, I don’t. I believe you asked first, that I agreed it was the only course of action. And that you’d ask again before doing something similar. But do I trust you not to if I didn’t want you to?” He shook his head. “I’m sorry, but no.”

“So am I.”

“Oddly enough I don’t hold it against you. But I will question everything you tell me or ask me to do, I won’t be able to stop myself.”

“That’s not good if I tell you to duck.”

“That’s just the way it is.”

“Yes. I suppose it is.” She walked out of the infirmary.

Simon watched her go, noting the grey aspect of her tattoo where it was visible above the singlet she wore. Mal always said it gave him a head’s up to how she was feeling. Perhaps it was true. A trickle of guilt ran down his spine, but he pushed it away. He had a right to still resent what they did. He had a right.

River stuck her head out of the storage locker they called Eden and glared at him.

“She brought it up,” he insisted.

River didn’t answer, just raised her eyebrows at him before going back to weeding.


“You planning on landing for me?” Hank joked as he stepped onto the bridge. Persephone hung like a huge jewel in the window, and Zoe sat in the pilot’s chair.

“Not particularly.” She stood up, kissed him lightly then moved to the other seat.

“You must be the only one who doesn’t,” Hank said, settling himself and checking the readings automatically.

“I’m with Mal. Dog, bark …”

Hank grinned. “Woof.”

“Although I was wondering if I was going to have to send a search party out for you.” She raised an eyebrow at him. “Seeing as we’re getting pretty close.”

“I was inspired.”

“Your book?”

“Hey, don’t scoff.”

“I didn’t scoff. If I scoffed you’d know.”

“With bells on?”

“And whistles.”

“Fancy that. And yes, my book. I think I’ve figured out a way to get Genevieve out of Sir Randolph’s clutches.”

“Right.” Zoe didn’t quite roll her eyes. “Glad of that.”

“Genevieve will be.” He waggled his eyebrows at her. “And it’s almost worth making you. Scoff, that is. A little scoffing might be fun.” He adjusted their angle of descent so Serenity’s belly would hit atmo first, and stars span.

After a moment’s silent contemplation Zoe went on, “Hank …”

“Yes, honey?”

“Have you been playing those Cortex competitions again?”

“Not lately. At least, not since someone pointed out that it might be considered a form of gambling.” Hank shrugged. “Mal was pretty clear on that.”

“He was probably right, but I think it was more that he didn’t really want his ship cluttered up with a year’s supply of rabbit food. Considering we don’t have a rabbit.”

“Ah, well, you see, that was a mistake. I was going for the main prize of the weekend on Calypso. Just you and me, the Presidential suite, room service …” He sighed heavily.

“On a rabbit-fancier’s site.”

“Hey, I didn’t make him go and pick it up, did I?” Now his expression was aggrieved. “And I did manage to sell it.”

Jayne managed to sell it. And only because he lied to one of his contacts about it.”

Hank shook his head sadly. “I had to put up with rabbit jokes for a week.”

“And Mal was pestered for longer by the kids to let them have one as a pet.”

“I apologised! Besides, they have me, what do they want a rabbit for?”

Zoe chuckled. “Quite possibly because you don’t have long ears and a fluffy white tail.”

“There is that,” he agreed amicably. “Anyway, what started this character assassination?”

“There’s a wave come in for you. From a Septimus Pike.”

“Septimus?” He flicked a switch then looked back at her. “Does he have six brothers?”

“And I would know this … how?” Zoe’s dark eyes gazed at him under a raised brow.

He grinned at the same time as playing with a few more toggles. “I always thought you could catch being psychic. And with three on board, and you always know when I’m trying to get away with something …”

“That’s not being psychic, Hank. That’s being married.”

“Well, I’ll take a look at it after we’re down.” The ship began to buck under his hands as the sky started to glow. He reached up quickly to switch on the internal comm. “Kaylee, those linkages okay?”

“They’re shiny. Just hang on a sec. I’ve used … there.”

Even as she spoke the buffeting decreased to nothing more than a strong vibration.

“What did you do?” he asked, his curiosity peaked. “It’s like silk.”

“Silk?” Zoe asked.

“In comparison,” Hank allowed.

Kaylee’s disembodied voice laughed. “Tell Zoe it was that lubricant.”

It was Hank’s turn to stare. “Why was Zoe … you know, forget I asked.”

“Probably best.” Her laugh warmed him through again then the comm clicked off.

As Hank (very briefly) entertained the mental image of his wife and the mechanic in the throes of something illicit, the flames outside dissipated, and he dropped Serenity’s nose to slip through the air. Below them Persephone turned from day to dark.

“What’s the local time?” Mal had come up behind them.

“About 1 in the a.m.,” Hank said, angling the yoke a little so they could see the ground. “And cold. Local weather reports say they’ve had a lot of snow in the past few days, with no sign of it thawing.”

“That why it looks kinda pretty?” He peered out at the radiance below.

“Yep. And Eavesdown is the pox right in the middle.” The comm pinged. “Port Control.”

“Well, get us down in one piece, then it’s time for supper. We’ve got a meet with Badger tomorrow and I for one ain’t gonna be doing that without at least a couple of hours sleep under my belt.” He turned to go but found Zoe suddenly at his elbow.

“Sir, do we need to deal with him?” They could both hear Hank dealing with Eavesdown’s bureaucracy in the background so she kept her voice low. “We’re not that short on funds, are we?”

“Not short, no, not since Dillon’s paying his and Breed’s way.”

“I thought Freya had told you not to take it.”

“She might have … uh … suggested it. But hey, Dillon insisted. Just … don’t tell Frey, okay?”

“Okay, sir. But that doesn’t explain why we’re considering taking work from Badger.”

“’Cause he was the only one who came back to me.” Mal pushed his hands into his pants pockets. “Zo, it’s worse than ever out there. I like this as much as you do, but we can’t be doing with turning down work at the moment.”

“But Badger, sir? He’s not exactly trustworthy.”

“Neither are we. And it ain’t just about a job. There’s those bits of folderol we need to get rid of.” He smiled a little. “And I’m not planning on doing anything rash.”

“Oh, good, sir.”

Serenity shuddered and the engine note changed.

“We’re down,” Hank said unnecessarily.

“Shiny. Food in two.” Mal strode off the bridge.

“He okay?” Hank asked.


“Oh, right.” He powered everything down and the ship went quiet. “And you?”

“Me?” She moved behind him and crossed her arms over his chest.

“You just seem a bit … I don’t know … quiet.”

She kissed his ear. “No need to worry about me.”

“It’s my job. You know? ‘Til death, and all that.”

“That’s nice.”

“Oh, damning with faint praise.” He held her hands tightly.

“And hadn’t you better open that wave?”

“I’m comfy.”

“Hank …”

“Oh, all right.” He leaned forward to check the message details. “Hmn.”

Hmn good, or hmn bad? Because if it’s bad then Mal needs to be back up here.”

“More hmn interesting.” He read the sender name. “Septimus Pike, of Pike, Pike and Lansdowne, solicitors to the crowned heads of Londinium.” He glanced up. “Does Londinium have crowned heads?”

“It’s hyperbole.”

“If you mean lying, I agree.” He grinned again. “And what are solicitors?”

“Lawyers with clean hands.” Freya spoke from the doorway. “Aren’t either of you interested in coming to eat before Jayne gets it all?”

“You go,” Hank said to Zoe. “I’ll check this out then come along.”

Zoe stood straight. “Don’t be long.”


Next morning Dillon stood in the open doorway, breathing deeply.

“Do you really want to do that?” Mal asked, walking down the stairs.

“I missed it.”

“Breed know you’ve picked up the space crazy?”

Dillon laughed as the other man joined him. “He’s making sure we’ve got everything, then we’re off home. And I’m not crazy. Persephone is my home.”

“Yeah, but this is Eavesdown.” Mal looked out into the slush, turned brown by continuous feet, and sniffed carefully, his nose wrinkling at the odours still in evidence. “Nope. Space crazies it is. And it’s gorram cold, too.” He rubbed his arms ostentatiously.

“It’s bracing.” At Mal’s expression Dillon laughed again. “Callum will be here soon to pick us up. And you’re all invited to dinner tonight as a thank you.”

“That ain’t necessary.”

“Yes, it is.” Dillon held out his hand. “Thanks.”

They shook.

“Our pleasure. And that little matter … it may come in handy.”

“Well, I won’t tell Freya if you don’t.”

“Not intending to.”

“Not intending to what?” asked the woman herself, stepping down into the cargo bay bundled up in her brown coat and pulling on a pair of gloves.

“Nothing,” both men said together.

“So it’s not the money.”

“Uh … money?” Mal asked, attempting to look innocent.

“Mal, Inara may be putting out enough static to drown out pretty much everything, but I know you.” She glared at Dillon. “And I said no.”

“Frey, you’ve put up with me and Breed in close quarters.” Dillon pulled her into a one-arm embrace. “You deserve a medal.”

“Or ear plugs.”

Mal had meanwhile taken note of her clothes. “You planning on going shopping?”

“No. Well, maybe on the way back. But Hank asked me to accompany him to see Septimus Pike.”

Something to his advantage. That had been the gist of the message from the solicitor.

“You think it might be money?” Hank had asked as the meal ended.

“Cash?” Jayne interjected before making a face because someone’s delicate foot had connected with his shin.

“It’s possible,” Simon said slowly. “Although with a solicitor it might also be someone else’s debt following you around.”

“He said it was to do with my family.” Hank pushed the remains of his meal around his plate. “But there was only my gran and me.”

“Your parents?” Kaylee asked.

“I … maybe.” He tossed down his fork. “Won’t know until I find out, I guess.”

And now it looked like he’d asked Freya to find out with him.

“Why you?” Mal asked, lifting her collar. “He think you’re gonna Read this feller for him?”

Freya shrugged. “Moral support. And I wouldn’t.”


“No, I wouldn’t.” She looked him straight in the blue eyes. “Are you calling me a liar?”

He grinned and pulled her in for a kiss as Dillon stared out at the passing people, whistling to himself.

The sound of Hank falling down the stairs broke the mood, and Mal broke the kiss, shaking his head.


“You’re early,” Badger said. “And you’re interrupting my meal.” He wiped his mouth on the pristine white napkin tucked into his disreputable waistcoat. “And I ain’t gonna thank you.” He indicated his plate. “My mum cooked this.”

“Your Ma?” Mal couldn’t help glancing at Zoe and Jayne standing next to him, and they looked just as surprised as he felt.

“Yeah. Wiv her own fair hands. Giblet gravy as well. My old mum makes the best giblet gravy.”

Mal couldn’t imagine Badger having a mother. He’d always considered the self-styled kingpin to have been hatched, or possibly crawled fully formed from the primordial ooze, if he thought about it at all. Mind, he wasn’t about to ask whose giblets. “It looks … tasty.”

“Don’t take offence I ain’t gonna share.” Badger sat back. “What do you want?”

“You said you had a job.”

“Might do.”

“Badger, we came a long way, and if it’s just on a kiss and a promise –”

“I didn’t say that, did I? Don’t you go putting words in my mouth.” He emphasised the point with his knife.

“Not my intention.”

Badger took it as an apology and scratched his forehead with his fork. “There is a job, but like I said, you’re early. I don’t have the details as yet. Maybe tomorrow.”


“That a problem?”

“No, no problem.”

“Shiny.” Badger sat forward and prepared to start eating again. “You still ‘ere?”

“A little bit more business.”

“You’re making my gravy go cold.”

“Won’t be long. It just so happens I have something might appeal to you. A few bright trinkets. We picked ‘em up on … well, that’s not rightly important.

Badger’s eyes narrowed. “They hot?”


“Which means the Feds’ll have my guts for garters if they find me with ‘em.”

“Well, if you’re not interested –”

“I didn’t say that. Just it has to be worth my while to take that kinda risk.”

Mal refrained from punching, shooting or any other kind of maiming, but it was hard. “That’s not a problem. I’m sure I can find someone else if you’re –”

“Exactly what’re we talking about?”


The big man held out a small pouch, but with his left hand. His right stayed on his gun butt.

Mal took it, seeming to weigh it in his palm. “Might be small, but …”

Badger pushed his half-eaten meal away to clear a space. “Show me.”

Mal tipped the contents of the pouch onto the desk, and Badger’s eyes glittered. “I’m looking for a semi-decent price,” he said. “Otherwise I’m sure Hadley will take them off my hands.”

“Hadley’s dead,” Badger said, distracted by the pretties that he was untangling and laying flat.


“Yeah. Got caught in a hay-baler out Brookmyre way.”

Brookmyre was the fourth largest of Persephone’s conurbations, some five hundred miles away.

“What was he doing there?”

“Hiding from an angry husband. Never could keep it in his pants.” Badger looked up. “It’s not best quality.”

Mal glanced at the jewellery, knowing what the little rodent was doing. “Can’t say I’d agree with you. Seems to me to be some nice pieces laying there.”

“Nice, yeah. But it’s a specialist market. And I’ll have to break ‘em up, sell the stones, melt the gold down …” He sucked his teeth, worrying at a piece of meat stuck between his molars. “Tell you what. I can give you …” Again he paused, then named a pitiful sum.

Mal shook his head. “Not enough.” He reached for the gems.

“Here, hold your horses. I could go to … ten more.”

“Try again.” There ensued a spirited bit of bargaining, backwards and forwards, until finally Mal said, “Done.”

“I think I ‘ave been.” Badger held out his hand and they shook, neither of them holding for longer than necessary. “Cash okay?”

“Good enough. And we’ll be back tomorrow. About the job.”


Outside, in the comparatively fresh air of Eavesdown Docks, Mal felt the comforting weight of coin against his thigh.

“Coulda got more,” Jayne grumbled. “Shoulda let Frey go deal with him.”

“She says he makes her itch.”

“Yeah, but he likes her.”

“This is fine. It’s more’n I anticipated, and it should help Molly get a good start, no matter what she decides to do.”

“We keepin’ a percentage?”


“Aw, Mal …”

“We ain’t that badly off right now. And I really don’t wanna tempt fate.”


They got back to Serenity only a few minutes before Freya and Hank appeared at the bottom of the ramp. The pilot seemed in a state of shock, and had to be steered inside.

Mal, waiting for them, closed the door to keep out the cold. “Everything okay?” he asked.

“Fine, Zoe. Fine.” Hank waved vaguely at him then continued across the cargo bay towards the stairs.


Freya blew out a breath through puffed cheeks as she pulled off her gloves. “He’s had something of a shock.”

They watched Hank finally get his foot onto the first step on the third go.

“Don’t tell me. A rich relative has died and left him a fortune,” Mal joked.

“Um …”

He stared at Freya. “Wait a sec … are you saying …”

“I’m cold,” she said, following Hank towards the bunks. “Talk to me while I warm up.”

“Frey …”

to be continued



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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!]