Salvage - Part II
Sunday, February 4, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Back to the story ... Mal and co have a job from Badger, but first people go shopping ... Thanks to TamSibling for the idea - I had to use it! Good or bad, please feedback/rate.


Despite what she’d said to Mal, Freya was feeling tired. And feeling annoyed for feeling tired. She’d sat down on the only chair in the store while Kaylee picked over the children’s clothes, and sighed. She wanted to feel strong. Fit. Like she had done. Before Ethan …

He moved slightly, and she looked down into a pair of big blue eyes. Simon had said he was probably going to keep them, and she didn’t mind. Just like his father.

“He’s cute,” a woman said, bending down. “Hold old is he?”

Freya looked up. “Three weeks.”

“First baby?”


The young woman, probably not much older than River, smiled. “And this’ll be your first trip out?”


“And you’re finding it hard going?” she asked astutely.

Freya smiled slightly. “Is it always like this?”

“Always.” The woman grinned. “At least with my three it was.” She glanced around towards a man at the back of the shop, two small children around his feet and one in his arms. “It takes a while for the body to get back to normal.”

“How long?”

She laughed. “Oh, around until the next one comes along.”

“I just feel like my body isn’t mine any more.”

“It isn’t.” The woman stood up. “You’re designed to be a one-stop food store. Kinda ensures any woman feels pretty pointless.” She smiled. “You had sex yet?”

Freya blushed, just a little, something she seemed to be doing more often since she’d got pregnant. “Actually … yes.”

“Good. Best thing. Makes you feel like a woman and not just a momma.”

“But I don’t even look right …”

“Did that stop your man?”

“Well, no …”

The woman leaned over, her voice low, conspiratorial. “Look, this is a secret, but … if you have a man who loves you, he don’t care if your belly ain’t flat no more.”

Freya thought back to the night before, how Mal seemed to pay particular attention to her stomach, to the fullness that she found so … “Oh.”

The other woman laughed. “See, things ain’t so bad as you think.” She looked back at her family. “Gotta go,” she said. “What’s his name?”


“That's a good one. And don’t you worry … everything’s gonna be fine.”


The woman grinned and hurried away.

Kaylee held up a small t-shirt. "What do you think?”

Simon looked at the price tag. “Kaylee, that’s as much as my shirt cost!” He was appalled. “Don’t they have something cheaper?”

“Don’t you want your daughter to look pretty?” Kaylee countered. “Anyway, kids’ stuff's expensive. I don’t know why. And you’re being mean.” She turned from him.

“I’m not!” Simon protested, but inside he realised she was right. “Kaylee … bao bei …” He put a hand on her arm, encouraged when she didn’t shrug it off. “I’d buy everything in the store for Bethany if I could,” he said softly. “Even …” He looked around. “Even that horrendous t-shirt.” He pointed to a putrid green monstrosity with a picture of a dancing elephant on it.

“I kinda like it,” Kaylee said quietly.

“Then … then …” Simon backpedalled. “That too. It … it grows on you.” He squeezed a little. “Kaylee …”

She turned and looked at him, and he was immensely relieved to see she was smiling. “Not for Bethany, though,” she said, moving closer. “Maybe see if they got one in a extra-large man’s size for Jayne.”

Simon couldn’t help it. The thought of the big mercenary wearing a T with an elephant wearing ballet shoes and a gauzy tutu printed on it … he laughed.

Kaylee joined in. “Simon, honey, I know these things cost a lot. I really do. But she grows out of stuff so quickly, and unless you think the Cap’s gonna take to a little naked girl running around his ship …”

The image of Jayne was replaced by one of his daughter, sitting in her high chair, her bare bottom on the cold seat as she played with her food … “Save on cleaning,” he muttered.

“That it might,” his wife agreed. She looked tenderly at him. “What if we go someplace else? I’m sure I saw a secondhand store just around -”

“Someone else’s?” Simon almost squeaked.

“She’s wearing stuff Mrs Adams gave us right now.”

“Yes, but we know her.”

“Not much.”

Simon shook his head. “No. You get what she needs. Right here.”

Kaylee smiled and kissed him lightly. “I love my husband,” she said sincerely.

“I should hope you do,” Freya said, coming up behind them, a small dress in her hand. “How about this? Then when she gets too tall she can wear it with shorts.”

“Ooh,” Kaylee said excitedly, taking it from her. “That’s a good idea!” She dropped all the other stuff she’d picked up. “And I saw the perfect pair of stretchy pants that would …” She hurried off, and Simon sighed. This was going to take a lot longer than he’d anticipated.

“Sorry,” Freya said, smiling. “Thought it might help.”

“That’s okay,” he said. “You know, time was all I had to worry about was whether I’d reattached a girl’s leg properly.”

“And now you have a wife and daughter who love you.”

“Oh, I think I’ve got the best end of the bargain,” he admitted, smiling. “I just can’t help thinking -”

“Don’t,” Freya advised. “Just think of your daughter instead. Talking of which, where is she?”

Simon looked around. “Oh no,” he whispered. “I was supposed to be watching her.” His face went even paler than usual.

“Come on, we’ll find her,” Freya said, settling Ethan more comfortably. “She won’t have gone far.”

She hadn’t. They found her two aisles along, sitting in the middle of a large group of toys, all carefully arranged so they were looking at her. She had a baby doll in her arms.

“Bethany …” Simon went down onto his knees. “What are you doing?” He started to put the toys back on the shelf.

“Ethan,” Bethany said, holding out the doll. “Bed time stories.” She looked down. “Once ‘pon a time …”

“It’s not storytime,” her father said, glancing around to see if anyone was watching as he finished packing the toys back under the counter. “Not time for bed yet.”

Bethany looked into his face. “Damn,” she said.

Two rather respectable ladies turned at the sound, and stared. They muttered something and hurried on.

Simon closed his eyes briefly and sighed. That was it. The end of civilisation as he knew it. His child had just sworn in front of total strangers. “I’m going to kill Jayne,” he murmured. He looked back at his daughter and said more forcefully, “No, Bethany. You know what your Momma said. We don’t -” He was trying to lift her to her feet but she was resisting.

“Damn!” This time it was louder, more piercing.

“Bethany …” Simon tried to take the doll from her arms, but she clung tightly to it.

“My Ethan,” she said, tears springing to her eyes.

“Sweetheart, please …” Simon felt, as he always did when the women in his family cried, that it was all his fault.

“Simon.” Freya spoke softly, and as he looked up she held out a couple of notes.

“What’s that?” he asked, confused.

“I’ll buy the doll.”

Simon shook his head. “No. She has to understand she doesn’t get everything she wants -” he began, but she interrupted him.

“She wanted them all, but she compromised,” Freya pointed out. “Come on. Take it. I want to. And I’ll take Bethany outside. I could do with some fresh air.”

Simon stood up. “Are you okay?” he asked, putting his hand under her arm.

“Shiny.” She smiled. “Just a little tired.”

“It’s to be expected.”

“Well, I hate it,” Freya said, startling the young doctor. “I can’t do what I want, when I want, I look terrible …”

He was shocked. “Are you saying you don’t want -”

“No!” Freya’s voice was too strident. She tempered it. “No. I wouldn’t give up Ethan for anything. But I wish I were back to normal too.”

“You’ve had a baby, Freya. It takes a while.”

She glared at him, then sighed and smiled. “That’s what everyone says.” She looked down at Bethany, watching them both with big eyes. “Come on, squirt,” she said. “You can keep me company.”

Bethany pulled herself awkwardly to her feet, still holding the doll. “Ethan?” she asked, looking down.

“You can keep him,” Simon said. “Auntie Frey’s bought him for you.”

The little girl smiled so hugely that it warmed his heart.

“Come on,” Freya said again, holding out her hand. “Let’s go sit in the sun.” ---

“How did the shopping go?” Inara asked as River and Jethro stepped back on board.

“You should have come,” River said grinning. “Helped me persuade Jethro about a shirt.”

“It was far too expensive and I’d never wear it,” the young man said. “These are fine.” He held out the bag he carried in his uninjured hand.

“It’s not enough,” the girl said. “I wanted to get -”

“It’s plenty.” He looked down, knowing he’d interrupted her. “River, I’m grateful. I really am. But you have to understand, at the Abbey, we never had much. It was part of our order. Possessions aren’t meant to be important …” He’d worded that badly, he realised. “I’d just got used to wearing the shirt of a Shepherd …”

She stepped closer to him. “You’re not a Shepherd, Jethro. You were never meant to be,” she said softly, her eyes seeming to look deep inside him.

“Then what am I meant to be?” he asked, curious as to what she saw.

“We have to find out.” She reached up and put a soft kiss on his cheek, then stepped back, almost as if she were surprised at her own actions. She giggled and ran away into the common area.

Jethro watched her go, then put his hand to his face.

“She’s never had a boyfriend before,” Inara explained gently. “You have to make allowances for that.”

He looked surprised. “But she’s not a child … how did she manage …”

“We move around a lot,” Inara said, smiling to cover the face that she wasn’t really explaining anything.

“I suppose.”

He still looked concerned, so Inara deftly changed the subject. “So what was the shirt like? The one you wouldn’t let her buy.”

“Gold satin, with a red velvet collar.” He shuddered. “I looked terrible in it.”

“She made you try it on?”

“Only so she could see how awful it looked.”

“And she still liked it.”

Jethro nodded. “I looked like a boy wh-” He stopped suddenly.

Inara understood. “A whore?” she supplied gently.

“I’m sorry,” Jethro said. “I didn’t mean to imply -”

“I was a Companion,” Inara explained. “Not a whore. No matter what some people on this ship tended to think. But I’m not any longer. Either of those two things.”

“I’m sorry.”

She smiled and put her hand on his arm. “It’s all right.” She squeezed gently. “You’d better go and put your new clothes away before River gets mad with you.”

“Yes, yes, I think I’d better.” He grinned, looking very young, and hurried off.

“Frightening men away now?” Mal asked from the cargo bay doors.

She turned to look at him, at Jayne grinning wickedly and Zoe with her normal stoic face cracked by just the hint of a smile. “I think someone else got to him first,” she said confidently.

“River?” the first mate said.

“He doesn’t quite know what to make of her.”

“Not the only one,” Jayne muttered, heading past them and up the stairs. “Anyone wants me, I’ll be in my bunk.”

“He’s not happy about Jethro being on board,” Inara said quietly.

“No, he ain’t,” Mal agreed.

“And you?”

Serenity’s captain looked down into her dark eyes. “I’m kinda waiting for the other boot to drop, truth be told. River says he’s important to us somehow, but I ain’t gonna hold my breath to find out how.”

“We could always put him off if you think he’s a threat, sir,” Zoe said.

“Not a threat.” Mal exhaled noisily. “And I don’t think River’d be too pleased if I did that. No, we’ll wait for a while. He ain’t likely to hurt us, so …” He shook himself. “Frey back yet?”

“I haven’t seen her, and I’ve been here since you left.” Inara smiled. “Just taking in the sights.”

“How come you didn’t go shopping?” Zoe asked.

”There’s nothing I need,” Inara said. “Since I’m not a whore any longer …” She turned her gaze onto Mal.

“Hey, I never said … well, not for a while,” he blustered. “Just wondering where my wife is, is all.”

“Right behind you.”

He turned and watched as Freya stepped up the ramp. Kaylee was next to her, with Simon carrying a worn-out Bethany right behind. She had a doll clasped tightly in one hand.

“Hey,” he said, holding out his arm so she could walk into his embrace.

“Hi.” She smiled and kissed him.

“You okay?” he asked, noting the slightly dark shadows under her eyes. “Doc, you been letting my wife get overtired?”

“It’s my fault, Cap’n,” Kaylee said. “Trying to find stuff for Bethany, then that ignition switch … took a mite longer than I had anticipated.”

“I hope you got what you need, ‘cause we’re gonna have to get going.” Mal tried to look sternly at his mechanic.

“Everything,” Kaylee replied brightly, knowing he didn’t mean it. No matter what he said, how he tried to be, he wasn’t the mean old man he pretended. She turned to her husband and took Bethany from him. “Nap time for you,” she said, feeling the weight of her daughter. “And you’re getting heavy.” She walked towards their quarters.

“Nice doll,” Mal commented as they stepped through into the common area.

“His name’s Ethan,” Freya explained.

“So she’s got something else to stare at now?” he asked, pulling her closer so he could look down at his own sleeping son.

“Freya bought it for her,” Simon said, lifting the package of clothes higher into his arms. “She insisted.”

“Loudly,” Freya added. “Otherwise I think Bethany would have sworn even more.”

“Really?” Mal asked. “So it was bribery and corruption?”

“Honest tradition among a certain level of society,” Hank said from above them.

Mal looked up. “Ain’t wrong there,” he agreed. “And you’d best get our course set.”

“We all on?” the pilot asked.

“We are.” He turned to his first mate. “Zoe …”

She pushed the button to close the doors.

“How quick do we have to be?” Hank asked.

“Ask Simon here,” Mal said, turning to the young man. “Kaylee buy up all the store?” he asked, poking the large parcel.

“It certainly feels like it.”

Mal smiled. “Better make sure we get the job done fast as we can, then. Just so you can pay for it all, doctor,” he said, slapping him on the back so hard he staggered.

to be continued


Sunday, February 4, 2007 12:49 PM


Poor Simon :(

Just wish I pop into the screen and make it all better for him.

Sunday, February 4, 2007 2:08 PM


This fic has all the comfort of an old much loved pair of shoes. Shiny, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, February 4, 2007 5:13 PM



I loved Bethany's little interplay in the store, but I'm a mite worried about Freya. Is she really going to be all right?

Simon and Kaylee arguing over money and close was also terrific! And what exactly is going to happen with Jethro? I just can't to see how River gets closer to him ...

Monday, February 5, 2007 9:35 AM


Hmm...wonder if I am psychic or something? Cuz Freya's starting to swing towards a rather...specific...pathway that I made a comment about in my feedback for "Lightning Strikes." Probably just a coinkydink;)

Still...wonder if Freya had a nice long talk with Bethany about not saying "Damn"....



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