Monied Individual - Part IX
Sunday, June 26, 2016

Inara stood up gracefully, despite her pregnancy. “You’re making plans, Mal. And we all know how they usually turn out.” She raised an eyebrow at him, cocked her sleek head, and swept out of the kitchen. [Maya. Post-BDM. A little family time. Read, enjoy, please review!]


He’d never had that much success with the opposite sex. Oh, it was fine after they got to know him, and he’d bedded a few, but with Risa saying yes when she did, and then Zoe, he was somewhat inexperienced in that regard, at least compared to someone like Jayne. And he’d never had someone throw themselves at him. Or even stand there naked in front of him, her satin nightgown pooled around her ankles. If she hadn’t looked so bored it might not have been so bad.

Hank swallowed. “Uh … Cora …”


“Ain’t you … uh … in the wrong room?”

“No.” She stepped forward out of her nightie. Which meant a step closer to him, and he was already backed up against the window.

“Cora …”


He tried to speak but his voicebox had frozen. He coughed to try and clear it. “Cora …”

A faint look of amusement crossed her features. “Yes?”

“What … what are you doing here?”

“I’ve come for you. To be with you.”

“I’m married.” Gorramit, why did he have to be so attractive to young women now?

“So?” She idly pulled at a strand of deep red hair, tangling it around her finger and giving him palpitations. “I would be better. I could be anything you wanted. I would make a good wife.”

“I have a wife. Already. And believe me, although I’m sure you have very nice qualities, she’s all I can handle. And all I want.” Now the words were rushing out, as if they were afraid to stay in his mouth too long in case they changed. “So you’d be far better off putting your … your … whatever that is … back on and finding someone who’s not, actually, married. More your own age. Yes.” He rubbed his hands together and nodded at the same time. “’Sides, you might catch your death, wandering around the corridors like that.”

She stared at him, her face now blank, then turned and leaned forward to pick up her nightgown.

Hank thought he was going to have a heart attack and closed his eyes quickly.

“I told him it wouldn’t work.”

Without thinking he looked again, to see her drop the garment over her head, to be decently, if somewhat scantily, clothed again. “Told … who?”

“Father. He thought it might keep the money in the family.” She sniffed disdainfully. “Anyone with even half a brain could see it was pointless. Grandfather thought it was funny.”

“Did … did they all know?”

She shrugged, one thin strap dropping until she pushed it back up. “Luke didn’t like it, and neither did Mother. But they’re desperate.” She made it sound like that desperation was a disease. “But I tried.”

“You did that.” He took a step forward, suddenly concerned. “You know, you could have said no. Nobody can make you do something like this. And if I were … well, not the man I am … it could have gone badly for you. Real bad.”

“I told you, I knew you wouldn’t.” She wafted to the door. “The older generation can be such dou zhan nao jin sometimes.” Without even a backwards glance she was gone.

Hank swallowed hard, then sank onto the bed. That was … yes, that’s what it was.

“Well done.”

The heart attack he’d considered earlier almost happened.

“Zoe?” He peered around the corner of the four-poster bed. She was standing in the doorway to the bathroom, wrapped in a large towel with steam behind her, framing her. “You know I didn’t ask for that.”

“I know.”

“And I wouldn’t. Even if you weren’t in the next room. Which I’d forgotten.”

“Well, seeing a naked young woman can make you forget things like common sense.” Zoe smiled slightly. “Look at the captain and Saffron.”

“I remember you telling me.”

“All because she was naked and articulate.”

“Cora wasn’t particularly articulate.” Now his heart was returning to normal he was anxious for her to understand. “And I would never … not ever … with another woman.”

“I know.”

“Or … or another man,” he hurried to clarify.

“I know.”

“Because I love you.”

She smiled. “And I trust you.” She turned off the light in the bathroom and closed the door behind her. “Still, I think perhaps I shouldn’t be letting you out of my sight. At least for the time being.”

“Good idea.” He watched her unhook the towel and drop it onto a chair. “Is that damp?”

“No. I didn’t get around to getting wet.” Her skin glowed in the firelight, warm and inviting.

“Uh … do you want to?”

“Are you going to join me this time?”

“I was considering it.”

She laughed, deep and throaty.


“She didn’t!”

“She did.” Hank had told the breakfast table all about Cora’s little visit, having returned to the Firefly with Zoe next morning as Mal had suggested. Now Kaylee was sitting open-mouthed. “I didn’t know where to look.”

“Sure you did,” Jayne grunted. “You ain’t dead.”

Hank glared at the big man then went on, “All I could think about was what Zoe had told me about Saffron that time. You know. When she –”

“I don’t think any of us has forgotten,” Inara interrupted quickly, glancing pointedly at Mal in case he reminded everyone that she’d kissed him and been affected by the Goodnight Kiss herself.

“And there was Zoe in the next room, and I …” He shook his head. “Did they really think I’d go for that?”

Mal put his cup down. “I’m beginning to wonder. And it makes me question even more the sense in taking Sir Warwick’s job.” He’d told them about it as they sat down to eat. “I know it’s but a couple of days, but a lot can happen in 48 hours.”

“Well, we ain’t going anywhere for a day or so.” Kaylee was fiddling with her spoon.

“You wanna explain that little bombshell, xiao mei-mei?” Mal raised his eyebrows at her.

“It’s just … the main atmo feed is kinda in pieces on my bench at the moment,” she explained, a faint blush across her cheeks. “It was playing up on the way from Lazarus, and I thought we were staying for a few days, or at least not heading into the Black …”

“You mean we could’ve ended up breathing vacuum?”

“No! A’course not!” She was affronted he could suggest it. “We had auxiliary.”

There was an uncomfortable moment when everyone remembered previous instances when that auxiliary life support hadn’t exactly been reliable.

Mal closed his eyes then took a breath. “Fine. But you felt the need to take the main apart?”

“Like I said, I thought we were –”

“Staying, yes. How long to put it back together?”

Feeling like she’d dodged a bullet, Kaylee said brightly, “Not long. Soon as I figure out what the problem is.”

He sighed. “Then I’d better tell Sir Warwick we can’t make the run.”

Hank looked relieved until Freya said, “Not yet. Hold off on turning down the job.”

Mal turned to his wife. “You seeing something?”

“No.” She laughed. “But I got a wave from Dillon while I was getting dressed. He asked if we wanted to join them at the Accordion tomorrow.”

“You know, time was we got maybe one or two waves a month, and all about business,” Mal said. “Now it seems like we light up the Cortex 24/7 with frivolities.”

“See the kids?” Kaylee had scooted to the edge of her seat. “Really?”

“Really.” Freya smiled at the young woman. “So I was thinking that perhaps we could do that, then do Sir Warwick’s job after.”

“Whoa, there,” Mal interrupted. “How do we know Kaylee can find out what’s wrong with my ship?”

Freya put her hand on his, stroking the back with her thumb. “You said yourself Sir Warwick didn’t need to know immediately. I’m sure he can wait until Monday.”

“And I’ll work all day today, Cap’n,” Kaylee promised.

“I’ll help,” Hank put in. “And since I am the pilot –”

“Technic’ly.” Jayne grinned.

Hank ignored him. “– I should fly us to Avalon.”

“It’s okay,” Freya said. “I’ll fly.”

“Yeah, but –”

“And rich people don’t fly. They pay someone else to do it for them.”

“Your bro flies.”

“Yes, but he’s not normal.” She smiled. “It seems to run in the family.”

“Frey’ll pilot,” Mal said firmly. “If we take the job. You need to stay here, look like you believe everything that’s going on. Don’t worry, we wouldn’t leave you defenceless. River and Jayne’d stay in the shuttle, just in case you needed that heroic rescue.”

“And I’ll be with you,” Zoe put in, holding his hand and squeezing gently. “I’ve only just got you broken in.”

Hank smiled uncertainly. “You know, maybe you were right, Mal. Let’s just leave. We know I’m not a Triskelion. Simon proved it. So the money won’t be coming to me. So I vote we pick up the kids and –”

“We ain’t running.” Mal shook his head. “Much as I know the Fosters are lying, I’m curious as to how they think they can get away with it.”

“Don’t tell me, Mal,” Inara said, a sigh in her voice. “You have an itch.”

“Maybehaps I do. So let’s see how this plays out a little longer.”

Hank sighed heavily himself. “Fine. Just don’t forget I said we should go when someone else says I told you so.”

“Now, I’m going into town to see a weasel about a Badger.” Mal stood up.

“Then can I come as well?” Sam asked. “Not that I want to … I just have a few things I want to get.”

“As do I.” Inara smoothed her dress. “Since it seems we might not be back on Lazarus for the birth.”

“Did I say that wasn’t going to happen?” Mal managed a laudable amount of affront.

Inara stood up gracefully, despite her pregnancy. “You’re making plans, Mal. And we all know how they usually turn out.” She raised an eyebrow at him, cocked her sleek head, and swept out of the kitchen.

Sam followed, chuckling to himself.

“That told you.” Freya laughed lightly.


Hank was duly sent off with Kaylee to see if he could lend a hand, although he was reminded that he had to be back in the house for lunch, as the family was expecting him.

“And Demelza said something about taking you for a tour of the grounds,” Zoe added.

“Really? Must I?”

“Like Mal said, you need to look like you believe all of this. It’s safer.”

“Who for?”

“At the moment, all of us.”

“Zoe …”

“Help Kaylee. I’m going with Mal to see Badger.”

“Can’t you stay and hold my hand?”

“How would that help Kaylee?”

“True. But it would help me. ‘Specially if it didn’t stop at the hand-holding.”

She smiled and kissed him softly. “Go.”

“Fine. I’m going.” He held up his hands in surrender but leaned in for another kiss. “If you’re sure …”

This time she turned him and slapped him on the rump. “Go.”

“You know what my safe word is, right?” he said over his shoulder as he headed for the engine room.

She didn’t answer, just shook her head. He was never going to change. Which was probably a good thing, since he was still the same man she fell in love with and married, but sometimes …

Her stomach grumbled. She hadn’t eaten anything for breakfast, just pushed a spoon through a bowl of cereal, and while the thought of food made her feel slightly nauseous she knew she should have something. Soon. Some time. Eventually. Later.

She turned on her heel and headed down towards the cargo bay to wait for Mal.


“What are you doing?”

Mal buckled on his gunbelt. “Going to see Badger. I told you.”

“No. I mean what are planning on doing when you get there.” Freya sat on the bed, watching him.

“You make it sound like I was going to do something foolish.”

“I know you.”

He stopped, halfway into his brown coat. “And you say you love me.”

“You’re going to wind him up, aren’t you? Hold those deeds over him and gloat that you know his real name.”

“And if I am? You saying he don’t deserve it?”

“Of course he does. But it’s not worth it.”

Pulling his coat back off Mal sat down next to her. “Might be.”

“Mal, I know it’s easy to make fun of Badger sometimes –”


“– but he does supply us with work. And he has some local power, and we don’t need another enemy.”

“Well, he ain’t a friend.”

“And if you cross him he’s just as likely to sell us out, you know that.”

“Yeah, but –”

“No buts. I know it’s almost too good to be true, to be one up on him. And I’m not saying we can’t hold it in reserve. But right now let’s play it safe.”

“Can’t say I’ve ever done that, ai ren.”

“Of course you have. Ever since there were children on this ship.”

He had to smile. “That’s below the belt.”

“Perhaps. A little.”

He rubbed his hands down his thighs. “So … what? You saying I shouldn’t go see Badger at all?”

“No. Just … don’t mention the name. He doesn’t know we know it’s him. Say we got into the safe, but there was nothing in there except the deeds, and did he want them? See what happens.”

“Can I be just a little smug?”

“Maybe a little.”

He stood up again and picked up his coat. “So what are you sitting there for?”

“Excuse me?”

“Hank’s helping Kaylee, River’s being a guard dog, so who else is gonna pilot the shuttle?”


It was only the work of a moment to get the shuttle warmed over, and Freya took the slight pause while she was waiting for the others to wave Dillon.

“… so we’ll be delighted.”

Dillon smiled over the ether. “Great. I’ll warn Armand.”

Freya leaned forward in the pilot seat. “Armand?”

“He runs the restaurant for me.”

“Not Armand Bolgeron.”

“The very same.”

“Who once bit off someone’s nose in a bar fight.”


“And once drew a knife on me because I disagreed with him.”

“I’d forgotten that. And you did take it away from him.”

“He runs Accordion?”

“He’s mellowed. And we haven’t had any trouble since I put him in charge.”

“I’m not surprised.”

“It’ll be fun. You two can talk over old times.”


Dillon laughed. “Your face.”

“Sometimes I wonder why I’m still friends with you.”

“Me too.” He grinned. “Are you sure you don’t want to come to the Spring Lights with us beforehand? It sounds like it’ll be something special, with the snow.”

“It wouldn’t be fair.”

“How come?”

“Kaylee’s working on part of the engine, and if she hasn’t finished by the time we had to leave then someone wouldn’t be happy.”

“Let me guess – Mal if she left it half done, and Kaylee for either leaving it like that or being the only one to have to stay behind.”


“I understand. Well, if she does manage to work the wonders I know she’s capable of, we’ll be by the pavilion from about two-ish.”

“I can’t promise.”

“I know. Otherwise we’ll meet you at the Accordion about seven.”

“Mama?” A little face appeared at the bottom of the screen.

“Ethan.” Freya smiled widely. No matter that she could look in on her children whenever she wanted – and sometimes she wondered if that was the only good thing about being psychic – it was so nice to actually see him. “How are you enjoying your holiday?”

He shrugged, then clambered onto Dillon’s lap, sitting astride his thigh. “Bethie’s being bossy.”

“Anything in particular?”

Ethan shrugged again, his expression one similar to his father sometimes had. “No. Just … being Bethie.”

“I’m sure she doesn’t mean it.”

Now the expression was pure Simon, and she had to stop herself from laughing.

“Are you coming to get us?” Ethan asked.

“Do you want us to?”

“No, but … miss you.”

“Me too!” Jesse bounced into view and Dillon picked her to perch on his other knee.

“Oh, so do I. But it’s a bit boring here at the moment.”

“And you’d miss the trip to the islands.” Mal had come up behind his wife.

“Daddy!” Both children leaned closer to the screen.

“So you don’t want to go swimming, building sand castles, climbing trees …” He looked at Dillon, almost obscured. “There are trees?”

“Oh, yes,” the older man assured him. “Just right for falling out of. And Breed’s bought a new toy, some kind of drone he’s just aching to try out.”

“You don’t want to miss out having a go on that, do you?” Mal asked his son.

“Course not.” Ethan bit his lip.

“And it looks like we might have a job that will take us off-world for a couple of days, which would probably mean lessons.”

“Oh.” Ethan exchanged a glance with his sister. “Then …”

Freya had to chuckle. “We’ll all have dinner tomorrow night before we go. If we go.”

“But not forever,” Jesse put in, not quite making it a question.

“No, not forever,” her mother said.

“Good.” The little girl nodded firmly.

“Um … Daddy …” Ethan began, then stopped.

“Yeah, big feller?”

“Could we leave Bethie behind with Uncle Dillon and Uncle Breed? I mean, you know, when it’s time to leave?”

Mal managed to control his lips. “She being a pain?”

“Little bit.”

“I don’t think Auntie Kaylee would like that, sweetheart,” Freya put in.

“No. S’pose not.”

Dillon had been grinning throughout the conversation, but now broke in. “We need to get going.”

“The Museum?” Mal asked.

“Then ice-cream after.”

“With chocolate sprinkles?”


“Can I come?”

“You have a job to do,” Freya pointed out.

Mal sighed loudly.

Dillon laughed. “Another time.”

Ethan scrambled down. “’Bye, Mama. Daddy.”

“Be a good boy.” Freya blew him a kiss.

“Mama …” he complained.

Jesse, on the other hand, grabbed at the air and pulled something from it, planting it on her cheek just as the screen went dark.

“I see trouble brewing,” Mal said, leaning on the back of the chair.


He swung it around to look at her. “You okay?”

“Shiny.” She found a smile.

“Couple of days, Frey. And if you want I think I could manage to fly Serenity to Avalon, if you wanted to stay with them.”

Now the smile was more genuine. “And have you landing? That would be asking for trouble.”

Noise behind them indicated Sam helping Inara through the door, Zoe standing waiting with an amused expression.

“Might be a moot point if Kaylee don’t get it fixed.” Mal straightened up. “But right now, it’s Badger time.”

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!]