Monday, October 9, 2006

Follows immediately after Enlightenment - so I couldn't wait to post it! Freya's back ... thank you for the feedback - keep up the good work!



“Doctor?” Mal asked from the doorway. “You got a moment?”

Simon looked up from where he was taking inventory of his medical supplies. “It’s your ship, captain.”

“And as you pointed out, this is your infirmary,” Mal said, stepping inside. “Although I’d ask you to bear the former in mind.”

Simon’s lips twitched. “What can I do for you?”


Simon nodded, knowing this conversation had always been on its way. “Perhaps we should go somewhere more comfortable?” he suggested.

“Don’t want comfort, doctor. I want answers.”

“I’m not sure I have any.”


“Her tattoo.”

“Yeah. You saw it – hell, you worked on it after Lon burned it off her back. Unless I’m very much mistaken there ain’t no way it could just grow back.” Mal crossed his arms like a shield.

“A week ago I’d have agreed with you,” Simon said, leaning back on the counter.

“So what’s changed your mind?”

“Not changed,” Simon put in quickly. “But I’ve been thinking, talking to River … about them, and the Academy.”

“Go on.”

“This isn’t the first time Freya’s recovered from something maybe she shouldn’t.”

“The swordfight.” Red blood on yellow sand, and Mal shivered involuntarily.

“I know Inara was sure she hadn’t hit any major organs, and I didn’t disabuse her of that notion, but –”

“Doc, I know Freya nearly died.”

“Thing is, Mal, she should have. Any normal person, anyone else on this ship, wouldn’t have stood a chance.” Simon shook his head. “I may be a good doctor, but even I can’t perform miracles.”

“It ain’t the only time, Simon,” Mal said quietly, remembering the ridge at Dhu Khang, kneeling in Freya’s blood, tugging the braids from her shoulder and taking what he was sure was a final kiss … “Always thought she had nine lives, like a cat.”

“I think it’s more than that, Mal. I think the Academy … changed something.” He bit his lip. “We don’t know what they did to her there, all those years ago, and I doubt she could tell you even if you asked. But what if they … they boosted her healing capabilities somehow? Maybe she was always special in that area, and they increased it in some way?”

“Like your sister.”

“River was always gifted, and probably psychic. But when they stripped her amygdala, left her open to everything …” The look on Simon’s face was at once angry and thoughtful. “Imagine if it were Freya, Mal. A soldier who could take almost any damage, and heal quickly? Especially a psychic?”

Mal exhaled, blowing out his cheeks. “An almost perfect warrior.”

“I know it sounds crazy. But do you have a better explanation for it?”

“No. No, I don’t. Does your sister?”

Simon shrugged. “If she does she’s not telling me.”

“But the tattoo? It can’t just grow back.”

“It was part of her for so long, part of her psyche, her control … That’s what Lon realised, I think, why he did what he did. But I don’t know, Mal. Maybe her subconscious had enough power … I don’t know.”

“She’s got scars, doc. Old ones. They ain’t gone.” Sometimes in the night, when they’d still been sleeping in the same bunk, he’d lain awake, wondering where each had come from, how she’d put herself in a position to get hurt, if it was some kind of death wish because she’d survived the Academy and no-one else had. Believed she shouldn’t have. He’d touched them, running his fingertips over the raised skin, wishing he could do something to make them go away, to make them not have happened …

“They’re probably not important,” Simon interrupted his thoughts, then saw the exasperated look on Mal’s face and threw his hands into the air. “I don’t know, Mal!” he admitted. “Maybe River’s right, and it isn’t ink, but prayer.”

“Ain’t prayed in a long time, doctor.”

“No, but she does. All the time. Prays to stay sane.”

Mal stared at him, then slowly nodded his head. “So how do we prove this?”

“We don’t,” Simon said firmly. “Unless you’re intending to shoot Freya and see what happens.”

“Doc, there may be times I feel like doing exactly that, but the impulse wears off eventually,” he sad dryly. “And I ain’t gonna just for the sake of experimentation.”

“No,” Simon agreed, trying to look serious. “I doubt she’d take kindly to that.”

“Hell, Simon, I’d be the one needing your medical expertise if I did that.” Mal smiled.

“Then we just praise our good luck and hope it holds.”

“Her luck, doc,” Mal said. “My salvation.” He turned and left the infirmary.

Simon watched him go, a contemplative look on his features. The captain may not have let Freya back into his bed, but it was only a matter of time. That was a man in love, any fool could see that. For some reason an image of Kaylee drifted into his mind, of her standing beside the engine housing, a wrench in one hand, a can of greasing agent in the other, and a smile on her face reserved only for him. Simon turned, and hurried to complete his inventory. There were better things to be doing that counting drugs.


Mal climbed out of his quarters into the corridor, glancing towards the bridge. For a microsecond he thought it was Wash sitting in the pilot’s chair, but it was only Hank, fiddling with something under the main console.

“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” Mal asked, going to the bottom of the steps.

Hank grinned down at him. “I will be, soon. Just wanted to get this adjusted –“ There was a spark and he yelped, pulling his fingers back and sucking on them.

“Yeah, well, you electrocute yourself, you just let me know.”

“Will do, captain,” Hank said around his fingers, waving with the other hand.

Mal walked towards the darkened galley, noting Kaylee’s door was open, but a glance towards the empty engine room suggested that she was with Simon. Mal smiled briefly. He still wasn’t sure about their romance, but it kept the young mechanic happy, and that was important.

He descended the stairs into the cargo bay, his eyes moving all the time. He often did this before turning in at night, just checking his boat was okay, that there were no final problems he had to deal with, no last minute hitches that only he could fix. At least, he’d done it since Freya had left. Something about that cold bunk just didn’t call out to him like it used to.

But everything was in its place, the cages where he’d left them, the case for their EVA suits closed. He didn’t know why it should be any different, but it gave him comfort. Even Jayne’s weights seemed reassuring tonight.

He walked into the common area, past the infirmary, about to go back up, but paused. She was just along there. A few steps away. Not that she was ever far away now: Serenity wasn’t big enough to really put some distance between two people, as he had come to realise when Kaylee and Simon were fighting. He’d throw things around in the infirmary, and she’d be bashing the hell out of some innocent piece of machinery in the engine room, but they’d make up before bed time. Always. Simon’s door was closed right now, but there was mutterings and muffled laughter from inside, and he really didn’t want to investigate any further.

Still, he walked past, heading towards the other rooms. Just to check everything was okay.

He placed his hand on the door, knowing she was inside, wanting her, wanting to feel soft and warm skin under his fingers, not the cold hardness of the carbonised sheeting.

“She’s not asleep,” River said quietly, standing close to him, like a ghost in her pale nightgown.

“She should be,” Mal said, somehow not surprised. “So should you. It’s late.”

“She hasn’t been sleeping. Tossing and turning. Like you.” The young psychic turned her dark eyes on him, and he felt he could lose himself in them. “Why don’t you open the door?”

“Because I wasn't the one who left, River.”

“No. But you are the one who has to forgive.” She looked at him, her head on one side. “She aches for you. How can you bear to know that and not help?”

“She …” Mal realised his hands were in fists, and he consciously relaxed them. “You don’t understand.”

“Of course I do,” the girl said, almost contemptuous. “How can I not? But she won’t tell you. Won’t do anything that might destroy the fragile balance you have here.”

“Is that what I have?” Mal asked.

“You’re balanced on the edge of a precipice, and you know just one wrong step can take you down to the bottom, smashing onto the rocks, blood and entrails spread out across the stones.”

Mal raised his eyebrow at her. “I conjure I know what I’ll be dreaming about tonight, thanks.”

A swift smile crossed her features. “She can save you.”

“I don’t need saving, River. Been doing okay.”

“Lying doesn’t help,” she said, shaking her head. “Especially to me.”

“No, I reckon it doesn’t.” He sighed, turning his back to lean on the door. “Why’d she go, River?”


“That doesn’t explain a damn thing.”

“It’s all the explanation there is. If she didn’t love you she wouldn’t have gone.”

“Was it her?”

River gazed at him, not speaking.

“Was it?” he persisted. “That night, before she came back. When she told me to hang on.” He put his hand on the girl’s arm. “Was it her or did I just dream it?”

“Captain, even my brother doesn’t know all the details of how the human brain functions, its higher levels of intracranial activity, and in particular the –“ She stopped. “It was more than a dream, Mal.” She used his first name, making sure he understood her full meaning. “She was coming home.” She glanced at the door, knowing Freya was listening, not able to pick up the words, just the low hum of voices. “She needs you. Heal her.”

“I …” Mal shook his head. “Not yet. It’s too soon.”

River nodded. “Don’t leave it too long, captain.” She gently disengaged his hand from her arm.

“Why?” Mal looked around, his heart starting to pound harder. “Is she gonna leave again?”

“No.” River grinned suddenly, looking like the girl she really was. “I just don’t think your bunk could take the pressure if you wait too long.” She twirled and went back to her room, leaving Mal to stare at her, his lips twitching.


Mal stepped out of shuttle two where he had been checking equipment, and walked along the gangway towards where Inara was standing, watching the game taking place below her in the cargo bay.

“Who’s winning?” he asked.

“At the moment I think it’s a draw.” Inara laughed. “Although I think the girls might have the advantage.”

Mal looked at her, his eyebrows raised in surprise. “It’s girls versus boys?”

“Jayne’s idea,” Inara explained. “I think he may be regretting it about now.” She pointed down and Mal followed her line of sight.

Freya was feinting around the big man, then suddenly bounced the ball between his legs, right into Zoe’s hands, who tossed it accurately through the makeshift hoop hanging from a chain in the ceiling.

Freya gave a whoop of delight, while Jayne scowled. He glanced up. “Hey, Mal. Come and join in. You can take the doc’s place – he’s worse’n useless.”

“Hey!” Simon was offended.

“Well, you ain’t scored, not in the whole game,” Jayne pointed out, picking the ball up from the floor.

“Fine.” Simon tossed up his hands. “It’s not like you play by any civilized rules anyway.” He went to join Inara.

“Civilisation’s a damn long way from here,” Hank pointed out, leaning on his knees, trying to get air into his lungs.

Mal grinned. “That it is.” He hurried down the stairs to the bay floor, pushing his sleeves further up his arms.

“Great!” Jayne said. “Maybe now we can win.”

The game restarted, but it didn’t go much better. Freya and Zoe worked together too well as a team, and Kaylee was fast enough to pick up any slack. After two more hoops to the opposing side, Jayne called a time-out and pulled his team into a huddle.

“Look, we got to do something. It’s our dignity on the line here,” he said quietly.

“What did you have in mind?” Hank asked.

“Can you keep Zoe occupied?”

Hank rolled his eyes. “I’ve been trying to do that ever since I came on board, but –“

“Can you keep her out of the game?” Jayne clarified, looking at the pilot with faint disgust.

“Oh. Yeah, right.”

“I can mark Kaylee, if that’s your plan,” Mal put in, but Jayne shook his head.

“Not quite. I’ll take on little Kaylee, you make sure Freya ain’t getting in my way.”

“Jayne –“ Mal began.

“You wanna win this or not?”

Mal looked at his crew, their determination, and shrugged. “Hell, she can only kill me once.”

They restarted, and Jayne proved to have been right. Hank, selflessly putting himself at risk, kept himself between Zoe and the ball, not even trying to play, while Mal did the same with Freya, watching her eyes all the time. He found he could tell when she was feinting, about to move around him, and he moved with her. She was getting annoyed, too, that was obvious.

It was working. Jayne had managed to keep the ball and scored three times, bringing the game level. This time Zoe called a time-out.

“You know what they’re doing?” she said, bending forward so the menfolk couldn’t hear.

“It has to be Jayne,” Kaylee said, panting. She’d been doing all the running around, and her knees were killing her. “He wants to win that bad.”

“Do we?”

Freya glanced across at the other players, standing in a group watching them. “I think we do. We can’t let them get away with this.”

“So … any suggestions?”

“Just one.”

After a moment they stood up, turning to face the men.

“Ready?” Jayne called.

“More than you,” Kaylee said mischievously. “Let’s make this interesting.”

“What kind of interesting?”

The young mechanic stepped into the centre of the bay. “All on the last ball, right?”

“Sure. But that ain’t interesting.”

“How about chores for the next week? We win, you do them.”

“And if we win?”

“Then you don’t have to clean up for a week.”

“Jayne …” Mal put his hand on the big merc’s arm, seeing the look in Freya’s eyes. “I don’t think –“


“I think we have been,” Hank muttered.

Kaylee tossed the ball high and Jayne went for it, reaching up with his longer arms to pluck it out of the air. Except suddenly he was falling backwards as Kaylee tackled his knees. Mal, seeing this happening, tried to reach it, only to find that Freya had him around the waist and he was himself hitting the decking, rolling as he went with Freya in his arms. Hank, in a flash of self-preservation, ducked and Zoe moved past him, grabbing the ball and tossing it through the hoop.

Kaylee scrambled from Jayne’s prone form and whooped delightedly, jumping up and down.

“Gorram it!” Jayne said, laying his head back on the floor, staring in to Serenity’s superstructure.

Freya laughed from where she was lying under Mal.

“You okay?” he asked, not moving.


“Good.” He stood up and held out his hand to help her. She let him lift her to her feet. “You planned that,” he said accusingly.

“Absolutely!” She grinned at him, and was immensely gratified to see his face dissolve into a smile.

“I’m not sure the bet holds,” he said. “I didn’t agree to anything.”

“Jayne agreed. I think it’s binding.”

“I don’t do chores. I’m captain.”

She laughed again, and it warmed his heart. “I think that’s something you’re going to have to discuss with your team-mates,” she said, putting her hand on his arm, feeling the muscle beneath the thin shirt.

“Hey, I was only a sub,” he protested. “It’s Simon’s fault really.”

“You keep me out of this!” the young doctor called, making a hasty exit.

“Maybe we should talk about this,” Mal said. “Over coffee.”

“That sounds good,” Freya admitted, and they walked off together towards the galley, him with his arm around her shoulder in a friendly manner.

Jayne, collecting the ball from where it had finally bounced among the cages, glanced up at the catwalk, where River was standing. She smiled and he winked at her. Damn, but that girl had some good plans sometimes.


Monday, October 9, 2006 6:56 AM


Awesome! I'm grinnin' like a fool - gotta love River and her scheming as well as the interplay between the girls and the boys. I love that they tackled Jayne and Mal, that's just great!

Monday, October 9, 2006 11:39 AM


Oh wow, that was some masterful scheming and beautifully played out. Got a smile on my gorram face a mile wide! LOL, this was great. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, October 9, 2006 12:28 PM


So wait? Jayne was in on the plan to get Mal and Freya together again? Go Jayne!

Great characterisation between everyone! Can't wait for the next installment.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 9:47 PM


Oh there's a twist I didn't see till the end! Definitely did your job right, Jane:D


Friday, January 18, 2008 5:47 PM


river, i applaud you! clever girl!


Sunday, October 9, 2011 4:48 PM


“You keep me out of this!” the young doctor called, making a hasty exit.
BWAHAHAHA this was great!!


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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!]