Monied Individual - Part XII
Saturday, August 27, 2016

Hank had to shake his head. In this day and age, when the entire output of every quill, pen and two-fingered monkey thumping on a keyboard was available on the Cortex, this statement of wealth and power was way over the top. He loved the feel of paper himself, turning the pages to get to the next twist, scanning the print to try and guess the next turn, but even his collection wouldn’t fill more than a shelf here. [Maya. Post-BDM. Hank thinks about Zoe, Zoe thinks about Hank, while Freya and Mal have lunch. Read, enjoy, review!]


Hank couldn’t rest. Zoe, complaining of a slight headache and blaming it on the ice-skating, had decided to take a nap for an hour or so in their own bunk on board Serenity, asking to be woken in good time to get ready for the evening’s activities.

“Hiding?” Hank teased.

“No. Just feel like having my own things around me. That’s all.”

“More likely it’s probably more because you didn’t eat breakfast that I saw.”

“I wasn’t hungry.” Zoe pulled the bed cover back and pushed her boots off with her toes. “I didn’t see you eat that much yourself.” She peeled her pants off her legs and sat on the bunk.

“Just can’t seem to get the enthusiasm,” he admitted. “But I’m looking forward to tonight. I’ve been doing some research, and the Accordion has had some amazing reviews.”

“If their food is in the realms of two slivers of meat and one small vegetable, you might want to eat before we go.” She laid down, pulling the cover over her.

Hank shuddered. “Nah, someone was waxing lyrical on quantity as well as the quality.”

“Waxing lyrical, eh?”

He grinned. “Good, hot, and lots of it.”

Zoe puffed her cheeks out a little. “Lovely.”

He sat down next to her. “Are you sure it’s just a headache?” He touched her forehead. “You don’t have a temperature.”

“I’m sure.” She took his hand and pressed his palm to her lips. “You going to join me?”

“I don’t know. Was it just a nap you were after?”


“Then I think maybe I’ll sit and read.”

“Shiny.” Zoe lay back, her hair fanned across the pillow. “Remember, wake me in good time.”

She slipped into sleep easily enough, something she’d learned during the war when there had been less soft beds and more hard battles, but Hank found it impossible to get into the novel he’d picked up. It was one of his favourites, too, with a half-clad buxom female on the front being menaced by a bare-chested man with a whip. Maybe it was the suggestion of abuse that had turned him off, but whatever it was eventually he tossed it onto the table with a sigh.

He watched Zoe for a while, wondering what he’d ever done in this life or any other to deserve her. Oh, he’d had Risa too, and felt pretty much the same way, but after she died he’d never even entertained the idea that he could find anyone else who could be ‘the one’. Then he’d stepped on board a certain Firefly, and there she was. It had taken a long time, and he quite understood the reticence on her part – she’d had Wash, and probably felt the same way.

“You must have been some man,” he murmured. “Nothing less would have been good enough for our Zoe.”

It didn’t occur to him that Zoe had seen something in him too.

Finally he stood up and crossed to the ladder. There was a library, he remembered, somewhere in the house; maybe there was a book that appealed more. A final glance at his wife, her breath whiffling slightly (not snoring – never snoring), and he climbed up into the corridor.

The cold air was pleasant, and the walk gave him a chance to empty his mind before Dottie let him into the house, pointing him in the right direction. He still took a couple of wrong turns, but finally he stood in the library, where he was positive the books had been bought by the mile and never even opened.

Hank had to shake his head. In this day and age, when the entire output of every quill, pen and two-fingered monkey thumping on a keyboard was available on the Cortex, this statement of wealth and power was way over the top. He loved the feel of paper himself, turning the pages to get to the next twist, scanning the print to try and guess the next turn, but even his collection wouldn’t fill more than a shelf here.

He stepped forward, running his fingers across the leather bindings. All of them were his, at least at this moment in time. Perhaps he should take a couple, hide them somewhere, just for the inconvenience. There were so many, nobody would notice, not if he moved each one slightly to fill the gaps.

He jumped guiltily as the door opened, and scuttled around a corner.

“… left it in here.”

“One day you’ll forget your head, and I won’t help you find it.”

Clive Foster and his father, John.

“At least I’m not like Crispin, leaving crumbs everywhere.”

“What crumbs?” John cackled. “That boy eats every morsel.”

“He’s hardly a boy any longer. Ah, here it is.”

“He is a boy – you both are. At least compared to me. And your brother has brains, don’t forget that.”

“What do I have, then? Cotton candy?”

“Sometimes I wonder. We wouldn’t be in this mess if it wasn’t for you.”

“It’s hardly my fault. I wasn’t the one pushing for permits.”

“No, but you did have your little … uh … ‘cash flow problem’.”

Hank couldn't see, but he just knew John had done air quotes.

“If you were more generous with allowances –”

“You get what you need!” John snapped back. “You think I’m made of money?”

“Come off it, Father. We all know you’re got millions squirrelled away in half a dozen different accounts, all siphoned neatly from the estate books.”

There was a long silence, and Hank felt curiosity starting to overcome his natural fear of discovery, but John finally spoke, his voice low, dangerous.

“You repeat that anywhere outside these four walls, and Crispin will end up being the only son.”

Another pause, this time shorter, until Clive coughed, as if clearing his throat. “I only meant that a timely loan of sufficient funds would have tided me over until I could liquidate other assets and covered the shortfall myself.”

“Pity you didn’t ask in time, then, isn’t it?” John snorted. “At least your brother has more sense.”

“It’s sorting itself out now, isn’t it?”

“Only because I’m dealing with it. And I shouldn’t have to – I’m an old man.”

“I have the feeling you intend trying to outlive all of us.”

“Of course I do. I’m not going out into that gorram mausoleum before I have to.”

“Father, language.”

“And who’s here to listen? You may sound like you’ve got a stick up your pigu the size of a tree, but I’ll call a spade a spade, and be glad to.”

“I know, but –”

“But nothing.” The door opened again. “And I’m hungry. We’d better go in, see if Crispin has left anything beyond those crumbs you talked about.”

There was the sound of the door closing, but Hank waited for a full minute before edging back around the corner, in case they’d known he was hiding, and were going to jump out on him as a practical joke. He wasn’t sure his heart was going to be able to take it.

The books forgotten, he peered carefully into the corridor, but it was empty. Holding his breath pretty much the whole way he hurried back to the front door, barely remembering to close it as quietly as possible behind him.

This time the walk back to Serenity was full of what he’d heard, trying to pull some kind of information from it, to make sense of the out of context sentences. So Clive had money worries, and John had something planned. Not much more than they knew already, but it niggled at him that he hadn’t heard the whole conversation.

Back on board Zoe was still asleep, her arm tossed over her head and her face turned away from him.

Better not to wake her for lunch, he decided as he lay down next to her, careful not to jog her. Not that he was hungry anyway, and from what he’d just heard he was half afraid to go back to the house alone, in case they turned on him and he became the main course.

Zoe rolled over to lay against him, giving a light snort as she did so. Perhaps she’d picked up on his stray thoughts …


Lunch at Alex’s house was light, tasty and of enough volume to satisfy even the junior Reynolds’ appetites. The conversation was kept equally light, mostly in the area of what the children enjoyed, and whether Mal was going to let Jesse get a pet.


“But Daddy –”

“Just ‘cause we’re not at home don’t mean I’m going to give in.”

“Just a puppy. He can play with Fiddler.” Jesse was preparing the lip to go with the eyes.

“Jesse –”

“And Ethan has Maoli.” She looked to her brother for support.

Ethan nodded. “S’right.”

“Last time I looked she more or less looked after herself,” Mal pointed out. “And more’n once I’ve seen someone else empty out her litter box. If she could figure out how to open a can she’d feed herself too.” He tried for conciliatory. “Can’t she belong to both of you?”

“Not the same.” The lip started.

Mal sighed, and Freya just knew he was going to say something that his little girl would take as giving in. She spoke quickly.

“Jesse, everyone knows what you’re doing. And it isn’t fair, is it?”

There was a knowing glance between the two children, then Jesse managed to drag out a bigger sigh than her father’s. “No,” she said softly.

“I know you’d love to have the ship filled with animals, but it isn’t practical, is it?”


“And there dogs at Inara’s, aren’t there?”


Freya had to stop the laugh at her daughter’s downcast eyes and expression. “Jess, we can talk about this another time. Just don’t go pestering your father.”

Jesse looked up, hope on her face. “Talk?”

“That doesn’t mean yes, no matter how much you want it to. And don’t think I don’t know Bethie had a hand in this too.”

Jesse giggled, confirming Freya’s suspicions. “’Kay, Mama.”

“Good. Now, who wants more dessert?”

Eugenia looked at her daughter, then her grand-daughter, and her heart missed a beat at how much she hadn’t been around for. When did Elena … Freya grow up to be such a wonderful mother?


Someone was snoring, and she was pretty sure it wasn’t her.

Zoe opened her eyes, laying perfectly still as was her usual practice, born of too many nights – and days – when sleep had been snatched from the teeth of battle, and any untoward movement might attract the attentions of a sniper. Except this time it appeared to be Hank making a noise like a moose on heat.

He was lying on his back, but he’d fallen asleep with the pillow too far under him, and his head had slipped back, his mouth open.

She had to smile, although there was a part of her that wondered how he could carry on like that without waking himself up, and the little snorts he gave occasionally made her make a mental note to get Simon to check out his adenoids.

Gently, slowly enough not to disturb him, she pulled the pillow out, letting his body relax onto the mattress. Immediately the noise dropped, and he half-rolled over, the room dipping into silence.

Taking the opportunity to study him, her eyes drifted across his face, wanting to touch but afraid of waking him. He’d hardly slept the past few nights since all this started, and he needed the rest.

What was it about her, she pondered, that attracted men like this? Hank and Wash were quite different in so many ways, but there was something about them both that had made her ignore her better judgement and let them into her life.

Wash would have enjoyed all this, too. Playing games and pretending to be the heir to the Triskelion estate. Probably accompanied everything with a quip and a song, probably about dinosaurs.

Still, Hank worried her. She was pretty sure Sam hadn’t spoken to him yet, so maybe the doctor was waiting, seeing if it resolved itself before long. Or perhaps he’d forgotten, wrapped up in Inara so much that little else made an impact on him. At least Hank seemed to be wanting to hang around for the best of intentions at the moment.

Zoe let her mind wander back to a more violent time, and Lizzie Holland, the woman she’d mentioned to Hank. A soldier, like them all, married to one of the sergeants in another platoon. Circumstance had put them all together on half a dozen occasions over some three months, either fighting an action, defending a position, or just waiting for the next order from Command.

The first time Freya had noticed the black eye Lizzie had insisted she’d fallen over during a retreat and hit her face. Since most soldiers had incurred injuries of one form or another Freya hadn’t pressed it. Three weeks later they all had a day’s leave in a small town called Hardin, where much alcohol was imbibed before people wandered off to find a bed. Lizzie had gone with her husband.

Next morning her lip was split and one nostril had a slight crusting of dried blood, no matter she’d tried to clean it. This time, when Freya demanded to know what had happened, she said a door had leaped out and attacked her. Freya didn’t believe her, and was about to go and face down her husband, but Lizzie begged her not to.

“It was the drink,” Lizzie insisted. “He got amorous, and a bit over-enthusiastic, that’s all.”

“Lizzie, if he’s hurting you –”

“No! He loves me. You can see that, can’t you? Just don’t say anything, please. He was ever so sorry he caught me.”

Freya wasn’t in any way appeased, but the sergeant wasn’t from her platoon, and neither was Lizzie.

It was another five weeks before Freya noticed anything again, and this time Lizzie was favouring her side, and when another soldier bumped into her she gave a yelp of pain.

This time she’d brook no objection. “Medic. Now.”

The young doctor, if he could be called that and not just someone with a little training and a lot of experience, lifted Lizzie’s shirt to reveal her side and back covered in bruises.

“I fell over,” Lizzie said.

“How many times?” the medic asked, shaking his head. “There’s at least one bruise here that’s gone yellow, which means it’s older than the others.”

“I’m clumsy.”

“And that one looks like a boot print.” He probed harder. “You’ve got at least two cracked ribs.”

Lizzie stifled a moan of pain. “I fell, okay? That’s all. Just wrap me up, give me a smoother, and let me get back to work.”

The medic and Freya exchanged glances but the young man just did as he was asked. Freya waited until they were outside the tent.

“I’m going to have words with your husband.”

Lizzie grabbed her arm, holding her back. “No, please, don’t. What I said before, it’s true. It’s just the drink. He’s a wonderful man otherwise, but when he drinks he … he thinks I’m wanting other men. That I encourage them, entice them.” She glanced down at her battle fatigues. “As if anyone can look sexy in these.”

“He still hits you. Kicks you, Lizzie.”

“I don’t duck fast enough. And maybe I do smile at people. I like to be nice.”

“That’s no excuse. And it isn’t your fault.”

“Lieutenant, please.” Lizzie’s eyes were beginning to fill with tears. “It might make it worse. Honestly. And someone said we were heading into the thick of it soon, so he won’t be able to find a bar.”

“I don’t like this.”

“Please. It isn’t any of your business.”

“Look, if you won’t talk to me, talk to your own CO. Or let me. He can have a quiet word, and it won’t get back to –”

“No!” Lizzie almost shouted, then moderated her tone as several people turned to look. “I said. It’s none of your business. I’ll deal with it. He’s always sorry, and besides, he’s promised he won’t do it again.”

“He always does, doesn’t he?”

“You’re not my commanding officer. And Mark said he won’t do it again, and I believe him.” She strode off, at least as well as she could while trying not to favour her side.

“You can’t win,” Zoe had muttered. “She won’t accept any help until she decides to ask.”

Freya’s face was dark. “If he were my Sergeant –”

“He isn’t. And Captain Jennings isn’t going to do anything, you know that. As long as they go where he tells them and shoots purple-bellies he ain’t bothered what they do in their downtime.”

“Well, I care.” Freya had stalked off, frustration surrounding her like a cloud.

Twenty four hours later Lizzie Holland failed to report for her stint of guard duty.

They found her just beyond the camp, almost unrecognisable from the beating she’d taken. Her husband was sitting next to her body, his fists bloody, his breath still reeking of alcohol. Nobody ever figured out where he’d found it, and nobody bothered to ask. His CO had no choice but to order a court martial, and with no defence the next morning Sergeant Mark Holland was stood against a wall, offered a cigarette, and summary justice took place.

It didn’t help Freya’s overwhelming feelings of guilt that she hadn’t saved Lizzie. Even Mal had a hard time getting through to her.

Zoe sighed. Demelza might not be in quite the same position, and Clive didn’t seem to be a drinker, but from what Hank said the excuses appeared remarkably similar. At least she had a gun now, although that hadn’t helped Lizzie. Maybe she should have a word with Luke, see if he could keep an eye on her.

Hank muttered something in his sleep. “… wait until they’ve gone … linen cupboard …”

She couldn’t read his mind, but had a pretty good idea what he was dreaming about. She hoped it was with her, and smiled, although it dimmed as a wave of nausea swept across her. Standing quickly she crossed to the small washbasin, but the impulse to throw up receded, leaving just a slight rolling sensation in the pit of her stomach.

It couldn’t be anything she’d eaten, as she hadn’t felt like breakfast, nor any of the food Demelza had provided. Maybe that was the problem, that she was empty. Perhaps she should see if Kaylee had left anything out in the kitchen, or perhaps … Oh no. Don’t think about food. Just lie down again, and wait for it to go off.

Only if it was what she was beginning to suspect, that might take a while.

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!]