Sunday, October 23, 2016

“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!]


Mal stood in the doorway to the nursery and gazed at the empty beds. Ethan, of course, had moved down to the lower crew quarters to have his own room some time back, but they hadn’t taken the old bed out. His sister, on the other hand, hadn’t so far succumbed to the lure of a room away from her parents. Besides, when Ethan had a bad dream he’d been known to sneak back in and snuggle up on his old mattress. At the moment it was covered with Jesse’s toys, a large percentage of which seemed to be teddy bears, all facing Mal and glaring with their beady glass eyes, as if demanding to know where their owner was.

“Sorry,” he breathed. “But she’ll be back on board ‘fore long, along with the rest of ‘em.”

Hands snaked around his waist, and soft flesh pressed against his naked back. “Are you talking to dolls now?”

He smiled. “You know, I surely hope that’s my wife behind me. Else we’ve got stowaways.”

“Naked stowaways?”

“Well, maybe they lost all their clothes in a freak accident and it’s my lucky day.”

Freya lightly bit his shoulder, then kissed it better. “At least you didn’t suggest it was River.”

“Nah, we keep that secret. Ow!” he complained when she bit harder.

Another kiss, this one more lingering. “Couldn’t sleep?”

“No.” He shook his head. “Woke up dreaming.”

“Good dreams?”

“Not … really. Mostly about being in a dark, cramped space.”

She stirred against him. “Ben’s been having those dreams.”

“Yeah?” He turned and put his arms around her, pulling her close. “You think I’m picking it up?”

“Possibly. We don’t know if psychics can act as conduits, but I don’t see why not.”

His lips twitched. “I love it when you use words like conduits.”

“Oh, I’ve got lots of others.”

“I know. Anyway, I didn’t fancy going back into it, and I was thinking about the kids, so …” He gestured with his chin over his shoulder. “Empty.”

She looked into his face, the low lighting making his eyes seem dark. “Do you want to tell Sir Warwick that we’ve decided not to take the job?”

“No. No, we’ve said we will, got the papers to deliver ‘n’ all. Can’t be letting him down.”

She smiled slightly, as always proud of his slightly dented honourable intentions. “Okay. Then I’m going to go get us into the air.” She let go and stepped back, half-turning to pick up her shirt.

“You don’t want to go back to bed?”

“My dreams weren’t much better, and like you said before, the sooner we go the sooner we’ll be back."

“You sure you ain’t still drunk?” he asked in mischief.

“I wasn’t before. And while I doubt I’d pass a blood test, I’m sober enough.” She slipped her arms into the sleeves but only did up two buttons before starting to climb the ladder.

“That it?” he enquired, enjoying the view nevertheless. “Just a shirt?”

She glanced down at him. “Unless we do have stowaways we’re alone on board. What do I need to cover up for?”

“Then why wear anything?”

She didn’t answer, just continued up into the corridor, but a moment later her shirt fell through the hatch, sleeves fluttering like it was trying to fly.

He laughed and followed quickly.


Hank stood at the window, ignoring the cold emanating from the glass, and watched the Firefly take off, her downjets creating a miniature snowstorm all by themselves, the flakes falling slowly back in a veil of white. His hands itched to be on the control yoke.

“Is that Serenity?” Zoe asked from the bed.

“Yeah. Mal must’ve decided to get going sooner than he intended.”

“You want to be out there with them?”

“Is it that obvious?” He closed the curtains against the snowy landscape and turned to smile at her.

“Husband, I know you.” She got up slowly, pulling the heavy brocade throw off the bed and wrapping it around her shoulders before going to the fire to stir it to life.

“Do you think they turn the heating down at night?” Hank asked idly, watching her every move and rubbing his hands up and down his arms.

“Probably. Like Freya said, rich people stay that way by spending as little as possible.”

Flames roared as oxygen hit the embers, and she placed another two logs on top, watching them start to smoulder.

Hank licked his lips as the glow caught the planes of her face, making her dark beauty even more stunning. “I love you,” he blurted, then blushed unaccountably.

“Good.” She straightened from her crouch and smiled at him. “I love you too.”

He grinned. “I couldn’t sleep,” he explained, somewhat unnecessarily.

“No.” She gazed at him. “Any particular reason?”

He shrugged. “Just wakeful. Odd dreams.”


“Nothing I can remember. Just a feeling of … oddness.” She sat on the bed again, the brocade slipping to show a long, lithe leg almost all the way up to her … “Want to talk me out of it?” he added hopefully.

“Do you know what time it is?” she asked, just at the tall clock down in the hall boomed twice.

“2 am!” he announced as if he’d solved a difficult puzzle.

“That it is.” She suddenly laughed. “So you won’t be able to get back to sleep unless we … talk?”

“Um, probably not.”

“Just passing the time of day – or night – or a longer chat?”

“Oh, I was thinking along the lines of a whole conversation.”

Swinging her legs up, she pulled the covers back across her, tossing the brocade away and laying back on the pillow. “You think you’ve got that much to say?”

He slid in next to her, the warmth of her body chasing the chills away. “I’ve got a whole speech prepared. It’s got adjectives and everything …” He leaned over and stopped her lips with his, all words forgotten.


Sam watched the sun rise over the edge of the world and breathed deeply of the fresh, salty air.

“Penny for them?” Inara asked, struggling to sit up in bed in their room in Dillon’s seaside villa.

He hurried to help her, leaving the view through the large picture windows. “You should be asleep.”

“You aren’t.”

"That is very true."

Her lips twitched. “So what got you up?”

“The day. It’s too early.”

She laughed lightly. “We crossed the equator and a couple of time zones. It might still be very early in the morning back home on Serenity, but here it’s …” She glanced at the small, elegant travel clock she always carried. “It’s 8 am, and an Indian summer, at least according to Breed last night.”

“Mmn, I noticed you having a lot to say to each other.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Not that much.” In fact she and Breed’s partner had enjoyed a long conversation as they dined, and despite knowing Freya very well she now felt she understood her friend a little more.

“Is that how you feel?” He sat down next to her. “That Serenity’s home.”

“Yes. And no,” she added quickly, seeing his face fall a little. “You have to understand, Sam, my darling, that Serenity was home for quite some time, and her crew became my family. But I grew up and moved out. Now my home’s on Lazarus. With you.”

“And our son.” He put his hand on the mound pushing the sheet out in front of her.

Her heart caught at the pride on his face. “Our son.”

Who responded by kicking strongly and making Sam’s hand jump. The erstwhile father couldn’t help the laugh bubbling from his throat, even as Inara grimaced. He made his face behave and said, “I’m sorry, mera pyaar.”

“It’s all right for you,” she complained mildly. “You’re not the one having to put up with someone dancing a jig from the inside.” She winced again as the baby hopped, skipped and pummelled.

“Hush,” Sam said softly, but not to her. Instead he moved the sheet and lifted Inara’s flimsy nightgown, stroking the skin directly. “Hush, now. No need to be so fractious. Shh.”

There was a pause, as if the baby was listening, then there was a ripple under the skin and everything was still.

“How did you do that?” Inara wanted to know.

Sam grinned. “The magic touch.”

There was a noise like thunder out in the corridor that resolved itself into the sound of Serenity’s children running and yelling in an effort to get to breakfast and then the beach as quickly as possible.

“Does it work with those already born?” Inara asked, sighing just a little.

Sam chuckled. “You know, the way things are going I’ll have to get used to it. You may well be giving birth in space.”

“Mal promised to get us home. Back to Lazarus,” she clarified.

“I know, my love.”

“But would you mind?” She took his hand. “If it happened that way?”

“No.” He kissed her palm. “Because I’ll be there at your side, wherever it happens. It could be in the middle of a field if you wanted.”

“I don’t think it will be quite that bad. Although it’s almost worth it to see Simon’s face.”

“Apoplectic, I would image.”

“He certainly can go an interesting shade.” Inara yawned, belatedly covering her mouth with her hand. “Ooh, sorry.”

Sam smiled. “You know, it really is too early for breakfast. Whatever time zone we’re in.”

“This from the man who used to make me get up at 5 am to sit and eat with him when he was counselling me?” The eyebrows raised again, this time much higher.

“A lifetime ago. Before I knew I was in love.”

The mock indignation was replaced by the softest of expressions. “Oh, Sam.”

He lifted the sheet over her belly again. “Go back to sleep for a while.”

“Are you going to join me?”

“That was my plan.” He quickly climbed back in next to her, his olive litheness contrasting with the pure whiteness of the cotton bedlinen. “But only to sleep.”

“As if I’d try anything in my condition.” She slid down so they were face to face. “At least, not until I’ve had a nap. And possibly some toast and marmalade. In bed. Later.”

He kissed her nose. “We’ll never get rid of the crumbs.”

“I don’t care. I’m on holiday.”

He laughed.


He stirred, letting his body report in before he attempted to open his eyes. Everything seemed to be in order, all present and correct, although his left hand seemed to still be fast asleep. He wriggled his fingers, and someone grunted. He was pretty sure it wasn’t him, so he did it again.


Definitely not him, unless he’d either suddenly got good at throwing his voice, and Simon had gone a little too far during one of his operations, judging by the timbre. Just to check he wriggled his fingers a third time.


Yep, that was him. He recognised the name, and he’d hardly be likely to be talking to himself. Much. This time he flexed his hand, feeling soft flesh fill his palm.

“Stop that.”

The weight lifted off his fingers, and he opened his eyes. Above him the ceiling of the bridge appeared very far away, but that did explain why he seemed to be lying on something hard, albeit covered by a blanket. He turned his head and smiled. “Hi.”

Freya’s lips curved. “Hi.”

“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.

Watching Freya sitting naked in the pilot’s chair, her sure hands lifting Serenity into the night, had had something of an interesting effect on him. He knew he’d never be able to look at that particular seat in the same way, but resolved not to tell Hank – it probably wouldn’t be good for his blood pressure. Still, she didn’t look surprised when he pulled the blanket from the locker and spread it on the deck.

“Yep,” he added softly. “That’d be why.”

Freya sat up and ran both hands through her hair, and Mal studied the flame tattoo rioting up her spine. He often said it showed him how she was feeling – if that was the case then she was in a pretty good mood, and he congratulated himself.

“I’m hungry,” she said, suppressing a yawn. “What time is it?”

“Ship time or Persephone time?”

She considered. “I don’t suppose it matters. I’m still hungry.”

“You want I should make you something?” He ran a forefinger across the central cartouche. “I think I can manage a sandwich without too much risk to my person.”

“That’s be nice.” She shivered slightly and stretched.

“And since you’re curious, it’s about 1 back on Persephone, least where we left from. In the p.m.”

“We missed breakfast. And almost lunch.”

“We were busy.” He leaned forward and kissed the small of her back, just as her stomach rumbled. He laughed softly. “I think I’d better make you that sandwich ‘fore you faint from hunger.” He stood up and pulled on his pants.

She chuckled. “There’s no-one to see,” she pointed out.

“Habit.” He grinned and turned to the door just as there was a small bang, less an explosion than a sneeze from the direction of the engine room, but all the lights flickered, went out, then came back on dimmer than before. “What the diyu …”

He span on his heel, but Freya was faster. She was already on her feet and leaning naked over the controls, shutting things down that might make them blow up.

As Mal came up behind her he could see the stars were no longer stationary points of light, but rather were moving slowly across the window.

“What happened?”

“I don’t know. We’ve lost power to the port thruster – that’s why we’re spinning.” She sat down slowly, still scanning all screens and running diagnostics. “I’ve shut down all non-essentials, but we’re still bleeding power from somewhere …” She hit the arm of the pilot’s seat in frustration. “Tuh muh duh.

“We got life support?” Various times when they’d lost that most important of systems exploded through his brain, fading just as quickly but leaving the taste of ashes behind.

“It’s about all I can be sure of. I’ve isolated it, so it’ll stay up no matter what, at least until we run out of power entirely, and I don’t think that’s likely quite yet, but I’ve turned it down to the bare minimum, just in case. It’s going to get chilly in here. But I can’t stop that gorram drain …” He could see she was angry at herself for not knowing, and followed her as she jumped from the chair and ran towards the engine room, all thoughts of food or sex replaced by something much more basic: the need to survive.

Freya was searching, and quickly found what she was looking for. “Here.”

She pointed to but didn’t touch an area of scorching, centred on a small box that sat on conduit running the length of the red room. The cover was hanging by a single catch, and even as he watched it fell to the deck with a clang. Inside was just a mess of burnt plastic, distorted wafer boards and melted wiring, the smell acrid and catching at the back of his throat. Worse, he remembered Kaylee working on it once, and there used to be a number of flashing lights inside, and now it was ominously dark.

“Can you fix it?” he asked, although he already knew her answer from the look on her face.

“I don’t know how.” She took a deep breath. “If I start fiddling I could make it worse.”

“Could it be worse?”

“You know that life support you were talking about? Some of the connections run very close to this. If I made something else blow up …” She didn’t need to go on.

He nodded, but couldn’t help adding, “Seeing as how I’ve seen this engine room in flames before but we were still flyin’, I’m surprised a little thing like that could disable us.”

“We’re lucky it was just a little thing. Anything bigger and it could have made a hole in our side and we’d be trying to breathe atmo that wasn’t there any longer.”

An image of Road Runner, Burton Wyatt’s ship, crossed his mind, at least what was left of that Firefly after the explosion ripped her apart and killed all her crew. “Then we’ll be grateful later. But now?”

“Now we need Kaylee.”


“I can’t. Comms are down too.”

“Can you …” He touched his temple.

“I’ll try.” She closed her eyes, willing herself to relax, and reached out.


Kaylee watched Simon as he played with David Gabriel in the shallows, holding the little boy so that he could splash and paddle, laughing all the time. She couldn’t help the smile, the sheer joy she felt at seeing them together, at her little family. The rest of which, as it happened, were running along the beach chasing Breed, who seemed to have been tagged and wouldn’t let anyone catch him.

“Stop!” Bethie shouted, just able to get one word out as she panted along, Ethan almost at her shoulder, the other children a few steps behind. “Not fair!”

Breed turned and ran backwards. “Catch me if you can!”

“Not fair!” Bethie repeated, then her eyes widened as Dillon ran out from behind a rock and tackled his partner to the ground. “Yes!” She threw herself on top of them.

Kaylee chuckled as the rest of the children followed, and the tag became a rough and tumble.

“Mama!” Hope called.

“No, I think you’re doing okay without me. ‘Sides, I think maybe …”

Dillon stood up with a roar, scattering children and sand, before running into the sea.

“Exit, pursued by a bear.” Simon had left the water without her noticing, and now lowered himself to the ground.



“Midsummer Night’s Dream?” she asked, remembering the play they’d helped Theo Hawkins with.

“No. A Winter’s Tale, I think. Or possibly All’s Well That Ends Well.” His brow furrowed. “I’d need to look it up.”

“Well, not today.” She lay back, the sun feeling wonderful on her skin. “Too nice to be thinking of plays and stuff.”

There was a shout, and great deal of splashing, now that everyone had gone into the water.

“Why don’t you go in with them?” Simon smiled.

“I’m shiny where I am.” She closed her eyes. “’Sides, be time for supper soon, and I want to enjoy it all as much as I can.” She chuckled. “Can’t get used to this. We left the snow behind, days so short it seemed like there weren’t no sunshine at all, then we come here and the sun ain’t even kissing the sea.”

“You’re a poet.”

“Nope. Just me.” She stretched, feeling the sand moving beneath her. “Feels so wan mei.”

“That’s because you’re beautiful. Perfect. And I am so blessed to have … Kaylee?” Her eyes had slammed open, and she sat up with a jerk. “Bao bei, are you all right?”

“Shhh,” she hissed, waving at him to stop speaking. “Someone’s talking to me.”


Jayne had stomped back on board the shuttle, shaking the snow from his boots and rubbing his arms. “S’colder than ever out there,” he grunted. “You sure it’s spring?”

“According to the calendar.”

“Well, looks like Hank and Zoe’re are set for the duration. I think they’re hiding from the rest o’ the family, staying put in the library.” He chuckled.

“Mmn.” River stirred the stew she’d heated on the illicit power ring she’d installed. Mal didn’t know about it, and if he did he was careful not to actively notice it, since he had, in no uncertain terms, stated that he thought it a fire risk when she’d asked. The fact that Inara used to have just such a set-up in her shuttle was something he chose to ignore. Still, Hank had found Inara’s old one for her, and even helped in making secure connections with a safety cut-out. But what Mal wasn’t told about he could turn a blind eye to. And that was –

“You’re gonna go through the bottom of the pan.” Jayne noted.

River drew herself back and smiled. “I seem to be untied today.”

“Anything I should be worried about?”

“I don’t think so. Nothing … pointy.”

“Well, you tell me if there is.”

“Of course.” She turned off the ring. “There’s bread in the box.”

“Shiny. I’m starved so much my belly’s flapping like a flag in a high wind.”

She laughed, as he knew she would. “Then we’d better tie it – and me – down.” Dividing the stew into two bowls, one serving twice the size of the other, they sat down on their bed to eat.

“You know why he don’t want you to have a fire in here, don’t you?” Jayne lifted a spoonful into his mouth and chewed.

She sighed. He often knew what she was thinking about, even if he wasn’t psychic. “In case I set fire to everything?”

He swallowed. “Nope, that ain’t it. It’s in case you hurt yourself.”

“I’m not a child.”

“No, you ain’t. Glad to say.” He grinned at her, sending little thrills of heat through her body. “But he looks on you as his daughter, so as far as he’s concerned you are.”

“He’s seen me kill a room full of Reavers. And more since,” she pointed out, spearing a carrot and studying it.

“Don’t matter to him. S’just the way he is.”

She looked up at him and smiled. “You like him.”

“No, now, I didn’t say that. And don’t go putting words in my mouth, girl. I … respect him.”

“Same thing.”

“No, it ain’t.”

“It is.”


She went to say yes again, then her eyes unfocussed. “Jayne …”

He recognised the signs and stood up, quickly pushing the stew in his bowl back into the pan. “What?”

“You need to stay, protect Hank.” She was on her feet and running for the bridge as she spoke. “They need help. And there’s a flask for the stew in the cupboard.”


Freya took a deep breath, the tension in her shoulders slowly dissipating. “River’s going to pick up Kaylee and get her to us.”

“The shuttle? Can it even make it?”

“It’ll be at the absolute limit of the shuttle’s range, and take quite a while but I don’t see –”

Mal snapped his fingers and interrupted. “Alex’s ship. Katya. She’d do it quicker, too.”

Freya stared at him in surprise. “Why didn’t I think of that?”

He preened a little. “’Cause I’m captain. It’s my job.”

“I thought your job was to stand around a lot and be roguishly handsome.”

“That too.”

“So what’s mine?”

“To keep me alive.”

“I think I have the hardest part.”

“Yeah. Me too.” He smiled at her. “Seeing as we ain’t going anywhere I’ll go put the coffee on … ah.” He’d stopped at her expression.

“No coffee, not at the moment. We can’t spare the power.”

“Then I’ll break out the hard rations, and maybe Jayne’s whisky. And get your clothes.”

She smiled slightly as she gathered herself to send the extra message to River. “I am getting a little cold.”

“That ain’t why. It’s just seeing you bouncing along like that running through my ship ain’t gonna let me keep my mind on the job.” He grinned at the affronted look on her face, then turned on his heel and walked out of the engine room, whistling as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

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!]