Communication - Part XV
Friday, March 23, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Everyone is waiting for River to wake up, and Mal gets news from Halliday. A lot of talking and some plot. Please review/rate, as it really helps!


“What the tyen shiao duh have you two been doing?” Simon asked, his jaw dropping at the sight of Mal carrying his wife through the door, Inara hovering in the background. Zoe stood up from the stool next to River.

“Ain't me, doc,” Mal said, sitting her down on the counter. “Frey managed to fall over all by her lonesome, and neglected to tell anyone.”

“It’s nothing,” Freya insisted, then hissed as her knee bent.

“Nothing. Right.” Mal stepped back so the young man could take a look.

“And I wasn’t on my own. Hank was there.”

“And he didn’t say?” Mal’s lips thinned. “Him and me are due a little chat.”

“We need to get those pants off you,” Simon said, peering as best he could through the tear in the fabric.

“Um, I'm … not exactly wearing anything underneath,” Freya admitted.

“You want me to leave?” Zoe asked, trying not to smile.

“How come?” Mal demanded to know. “You got enough of those nether-thingies to last you a lifetime.”

“Maybe not as long as that. And I haven’t exactly been able to do any laundry for a while,” Freya said, slightly shamefaced.

“Why didn’t you say?”

“It wasn't … I mean, there were other things going on.”

He glared at her. “And you couldn’t ask one of the other women on board to lend you some?”

“Mal, you don’t do that!” his wife said, almost shocked.

“Why not?”

“Would you ask Simon if you could borrow a pair of his?” Freya glanced at the young man, who just stared stoically back at her.

Mal opened then closed his mouth. “Well, okay. Point taken. But all it means is you’re just gonna have to be embarrassed.” He undid the buttons at the top of her pants.

Freya put her hands down to stop him. “Zoe …”

The first mate let the grin show. “I could do with a cup of coffee.” She walked out of the infirmary, collecting Inara on the way.

“Since when were you shy?” Mal asked, his hands either side of Freya’s thighs.

“Since I got the new scars.” Her head went up defiantly, glaring into his blue eyes.

“Still you, though,” he said, softer now.

“Mal …”

“And Simon’s seen it all anyway.” Then a thought occurred to him and a disgusted look crossed his face. “Gorramit, so’s Jayne.”

“You’re not inviting him in to watch.”

“Frey? Pants?” Simon prompted, his arms crossed.

“Yes, okay.” She began to wriggle.

“Wait.” Mal took hold of the material at her waist. “Okay, lift.”

She raised her hips enough so he could slide the trousers down, pulling her boots off at the same time. She took a sharp breath as the fabric caught on the dressing.

“How long’s this been on?” Simon asked, pulling gently at the seal.

“A … a while.” She grabbed Mal’s hand and squeezed. It hurt. A lot.

“You know this is only a temporary measure, don’t you?” He glanced up into her face. “That’s why it’s called an emergency pad.”

“Really.” Her mouth was open, her body leaning back away from him as he removed it, and a half-congealed blood clot slid down her calf.

“Frey …” Mal was speechless.

Simon put one hand either side of her knee and manipulated the wound, eliciting a grunt from her. “I think it looks worse than it is. But I’d say the kneecap is refractured.” He lifted her leg, swinging her round carefully so she was half lying on the counter. “I’m going to have to scan it.”

“Frey, I'm warning you,” Mal said severely, feeling her hand gripping so tightly that the blood supply wasn't getting through to his fingers. “If you even get a bruise, or … or a splinter, you damn well come and see Simon straight away.”

“I wasn't the important one,” Freya said, glancing at River.

“You are to me.” She glared at him. “Okay, both of you.”


Mal gave her a slight smile, then looked back at Simon, who was connecting up his equipment. “How is your sister?” he asked.

“The same.”

“No sign of her waking up?”

“Not so far.”

“She’s hiding,” Freya put in. “She doesn’t want to have to come out.”

The two men exchanged a glance. “You can read her?” the young doctor asked.

Freya nodded, then shrugged. “Her defences are low.”

“Tell her … tell her we’re here for her,” he said, swallowing.

“I have. But I don’t think she’s listening.”


“Since when was Freya shy?” Zoe asked as they headed into the galley.

“Since Wing did those things to her,” Inara said. “She doesn’t want anyone to see.”

“But we helped Simon. We saw.”

“She wasn’t awake.”

Zoe shook her head. “Coffee?”

“No thanks. I think it might keep me awake.”

“You can sleep?”

“No.” Inara sighed. “Oh, all right.”

“Good.” Zoe smiled and poured three mugs.

“You’re that thirsty?”

“One’s for Hank.” She added sweetener to one. “So, did you two clear the air?”

“Clear –“

“’Nara, this boat ain’t that big. And you were both shouting.”

Inara coloured, just a little. “We … talked.”

“That what you call it now.”

The ex-companion shook her head and sat down. “She was right.”

“About which bit? That you knew Mal’d follow, or that you wanted him to?” Zoe took the chair opposite.

“I didn’t want him to,” Inara insisted. “Honestly. I wanted … I needed to do this by myself. But I should have realised he wouldn’t let it rest.”

“So you tweaked your perfectly manicured finger and he came running?”

“Something like that.” Inara sighed.

“And now you feel guilty.”

Inara nodded. “Yes.”

“Seems to be going the rounds. You seen Jayne’s face lately?”

“Where is he?”

“Simon made him go back to his bunk. He was just standing and staring at River.”

“Simon made him?”

“That young man can be very persuasive when he wants to be.”

“Mmn.” Inara took a sudden interest in her mug. “He loves her very much.”

They both knew she wasn't talking about Jayne and River.


Inara looked up. “Zoe, I have to …”

The first mate leaned forward, putting her dark hand on Inara’s. “Your choice. But don’t leave it too long to tell him.”

Inara smiled slightly. “Nor you. It would be a good idea if you said something before you start to show.”

It didn’t happen that often, but Zoe was shocked. “How did –“

“I am … I was a Companion. We’re taught to read signs. Is it a secret?”

“At the moment.”

“Does Hank know?”

“Of course!”

“There’s no of course about it. I know you, Zoe. You’re one of the most independent women I've ever met.”

“Are you making a really bad joke?”

“I wouldn’t dare. I just can’t help wondering if you weren't sure.”

Zoe nodded slowly. “I wasn't. But Hank … we talked.”

“Good. And congratulations.”

“Thanks.” She shook her head. “Doesn’t stop the feeling guilty though, does it?”

“Unfortunately not.”

“Still, I ain't gonna cry over it. Not like some folks.”


Zoe stood up. “You might want to look in a mirror,” she said mildly, picking up two mugs and heading for the bridge.


Mal watched as Simon smoothed the plaster around Freya’s knee.

“I should do your whole leg,” he said sternly. “Keep you from doing any more damage. But I don’t have the supplies.” He wrapped it in gauze. “So this will have to do.”

“Is it that bad?” Freya asked, feeling the cold seeping into her skin.

“It’s on the same line as the other one. But it could have been worse.”

Freya shuddered, remembering the pain as they’d smashed down with …

Mal squeezed her hand.

“But you’re not going anywhere for a while. Not till this dries properly,” Simon went on, oblivious.

“How long?” Mal looked at the young doctor.

“Thirty minutes.”

“Well, that just about –“

The com buzzed.

“Mal? Would you mind?” Simon looked down at his white hands. “I’m rather busy here.”

“You know, this is still my boat,” the captain said, crossing the infirmary. “Yeah?”

“Mal, got that Halliday feller on the wave.”

“Coming right up.” Mal let go of the switch and looked at Freya. “You gonna be okay for a while?”

“I’ll be fine,” she said, smiling. “Just bring me a pair of pants when you come back.”



“I don’t usually reveal my sources,” Halliday said, his face set.

“Mr Halliday, someone just tried to kill your client.”

“Nothing to do with me.”

“Don’t recall saying it was.” Mal leaned forward. “But they knew she was on her way to Greenleaf.”

“Well …” Halliday pondered for a moment. Then, “Truth is, I wasn’t getting anywhere either. Your friend hired me because she couldn’t find anything out, and I was pretty well convinced I wasn't going to either. And believe me, that rankles. I pride myself on my one hundred percent –“

“Mr Halliday.”

The other man paused. “Yes, of course. Well, that gou ri de Guild is about as tight as you can get. Then someone contacted me.”


“I don’t know. I didn’t ask. You don’t in my business.”

“What did they tell you?”

“Only that Inara Serra’s son was on Greenleaf. Gave me an address, a name.”

“That it?”

“Well, they did say … It didn’t make sense so I didn’t pass it on. But it was something about a demerit.”

Mal sat forward. “What about it?”

“Just that. Demerit 9503. Why, does that mean something to you?”

“Maybe.” Mal sucked air through his teeth. “Anything else?”

“No, nothing.”

“And you’ve no idea where the message came from?”

“It was a secure line. Very secure. The kind that I’d usually associate with the Alliance. Or someone equally powerful.”

“Powerful …” Mal repeated quietly.

“Look, if that’s everything, I really have business to attend to.”

Mal nodded, dragging himself back to the matter in hand. “Yeah. And thanks.”

“If I hear anything else, where are you going to be?” Halliday asked, deceptively nonchalant.

“Boros,” Mal said, then shrugged. “Inara’s decided she needs a break before carrying on with this fong luh quest of hers. Can’t say I blame her. Mighty disconcerting having someone try to kill you.”

“Right. Well, tell her good luck from me.” Halliday signed off.

There was silence on the bridge for a moment, then Mal got up from the pilot’s seat and stood facing away from the stars.

“Did he mean …” Zoe began.

“He did.” Mal’s anger boiled over and he picked up one of Kaylee’s tools from the box on the floor and threw it against the wall. “Tah mah duh yao guai!”

“Um, Mal …” Hank spoke hesitantly. “I think you broke it.”

“I’ll replace it.” He turned back to look at the pilot. “Let’s see if Kaylee’s right about that fuel we salvaged.”

“Greenleaf, fast as we can?”

Mal nodded.


Freya poked gently at the solidifying plaster.

“Leave it alone,” Simon said wearily, preparing a hypo and injecting it into his arm.

She looked up at him. “The therapy?”

He nodded. “I'm tailing it off as fast as I can, but …”

“There’s a limit to how much the body can take.” She understood.

“Back on Osiris this would have been checked, cleaned out of my system easily. But here …”

“Simon, you’re dealing with it.”

“There’s still dangers.”

“Always are.” She looked back at her knee. “And it’s no safer there. Out here you might die from a heart attack because of a medicine, or a bullet in the brainpan, but even on the Core things can end you just as quick.” She poked at the plaster again.

“I told you, stop that.”

“It itches. And it’s –“ She lifted her head and gazed at the girl on the medbed. “Simon.”

River opened her eyes and for a moment she didn’t remember. Then the memory flooded back and she whimpered.

Xiao mei-mei?” Simon stepped close, looking down at his sister.


“It’s all right, River. I'm here.” He took her hand.

“He’s dead,” she whispered.

“I know.”

“I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye.” She rolled away from him, drawing her knees up to her chest, and Simon felt his heart breaking for her.

“Leave us be,” Freya said softly, sliding awkwardly off the counter.

“Frey –“

“Just for a little while.”

“I don’t know what to say.” His face was as anguished as his voice.

“It isn’t words she needs. Let us be for a while.” She managed to pull the stool around so she could face River, hitching herself up onto it, touching the medbed.

Simon nodded slowly and walked out of the infirmary.

“Honey?” Kaylee put her arms around him, letting him hold her tight, his body trembling.

Freya sat still, not moving, not caring any longer about her state of semi-undress, or the pain in her knee. She was just there, letting her compassion and understanding flow out, offering River whatever she needed.

For a long while nothing happened, then the young girl inched forward until her head was lying in Freya’s lap, and the older woman stroked her hair.

to be continued


Friday, March 23, 2007 2:06 AM


This was good, love Mal and Freya together. I don't actually trust Halliday so glad that Mal didn't go on to Boros but got a course set for Greenleaf. How many other people are going to get hurt while Inara looks for her son? I also, really want to see Freya get BETTER. Enough with continually hurting the woman please. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, March 23, 2007 5:45 AM


Really, really good ... my heart actually breaks for Simon in this ... we know he doesn't do well when helpless and now not only is he trying to nurse himself back to health from this idiotic drugs, but his sister is in severe pain and there is again nothing he can do ... poor Simon!

I don't think Mal ever intended to go to Boros, just needed to throw Halliday off the scent ... can't wait to see where the rest of this goes ... hint, hint, it is 2BF, is it not?

Friday, March 23, 2007 12:46 PM


Oh...this was just all kinds of interesting, I must say.

The dialogue between Mal and Freya was definitely in fine form, Jane0904, and the moment between Inara and Zoe? Understated but quite telling about how each woman is not exactly in a happy place right now about their impending motherhoods. Inara and Zoe redefining themselves is a brilliant subtheme, and one that I think Joss would have taken to all kinds of brilliant levels had he and his merry band of scribes gotten the chance:(



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