The Camp
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Maya. Pre-everything. This is just something that was rattling around my brain, and I decided to let it out for some air. Not sure it'll come to anything, and so far it doesn't fit in anywhere, so it's a standalone. BUT it is informed by other events in the Maya stories, such as Freya's confessions to Dr Yi, and events in BEGINNINGS. Otherwise, it may be added to, so enjoy, and let me know what you think!


The cuff had rubbed her skin raw. Some kind of metal, it disagreed with her, and had set up a reaction that irritated enough so she found herself scratching without realising. That just made it worse, and now the whole area around her wrist was one weeping sore, drying up just enough so that when it cracked again it made her whole arm hurt.

“You think we care?” the guard asked, looking down at her in distaste.

“We’re prisoners of war,” she ground out, waving her hand under his nose. “There are rules about our treatment, and one of those is medical care when needed.” She stood up. “Well, I need it.”

He wrinkled his nose at the smell. “War’s over. You lost. Get used to it.”

“I. Need. A. Doctor.” She spoke slowly, as if to a child.

“Don’t you remember the last time you insisted on something we didn’t want to give?” The guard leered at her. “Might not just be a … an accident next time. Might be more. Maybe they’ll let me deal with you.” The leer grew. “Could be fun. Least, for me.”

She stared at him, her anger banked deep, and only the embers showing in her eyes. “Try.”

He laughed at her, but the prickling in his mind made him uncomfortable. “You threatening me?”

“Would I do that?”

He shook himself, trying to regain the upper hand, something he felt he was losing. “Well, far as I’m concerned, I don’t give a shit if your arm falls off. But I’ll pass your request on.” He nodded towards the door back into the compound. “Get back out there.”

She didn’t take her eyes off him for a moment. Then, a slight smile on her face, she turned. “Thank you,” she said formally, almost as if he’d asked her if she wanted milk and sugar.

“Don’t go thinking you’re gonna get anything, though,” he said quickly as she opened the door. “Maybe I’ll make sure you don’t.”

She didn’t answer, just walked back into the mud outside. As the door swung to behind her, closing with its thud of inevitability, she felt her shoulders want to sag. Not going to do that, she told herself, striding towards the hut where she’d lived these past three months. Not going to let them know she was hurting.

“So?” the man at the window asked as soon as she got inside. “What did he say?”

“He’ll pass the message on.” She slumped down into the wooden chair by the stove, pulling her sleeve away from the cuff and wincing.


“That’s it.” She looked up at him. “I don’t know why I let you talk me into going in the first place.”

“You’re hurting. They need to do something.”

“They won’t. He’ll make it sound like it’s nothing, and they won’t do a gorram thing.”

“Then we will.” He looked around the hut. “There must be something we can trade.”

“Yeah. Me.” She sighed and ran her fingers through her short brown hair. “Only way I’m going to get any medication.”

“No.” His toffee voice was firm. “That ain't gonna happen.”

“Why not? It ain't like it’d be the first time.” She smiled faintly. “They can’t ever take that from me.”

“No.” He went down onto his heels next to her. “Damn it, I’ll sell myself ‘fore that happens.”

Now she laughed. “You think anybody’d buy?”

His lips twitched. “I’ll have you know I've had offers.”

“In the dark, maybe.” She sighed. “Look, it ain't that bad.”

He took hold of her hand, an identical cuff on his own wrist. He pushed hers up higher, looking at the oozing. There was a little blood mixed in with it. “What do you call bad?” he asked, and he felt a shudder travel through her.

“Had worse,” was all she said.

The door opened, and in with the blast of cold, damp air came another woman, tall, dark-skinned. “Here,” she said, holding out a small box.

“A med-kit?” He took it, looking up at her wonderingly.

“Took a lot of talking, and some promises I hope I never have to keep, but … it’s fully stocked.”

He opened the lid. She was right. Bandages, dressings, a variety of medications in small plastic tubes. “How –“

She took off the ragged red scarf she had around her head, and instead of the lush curls there was just tight corkscrews, cut close to her scalp.


“It’s only hair,” she said, reaching up to touch it but dropping her hand. “It’ll grow again.”

“Why’d you do that, Zo?” Freya asked.

“Because you needed that more.”

Mal looked between the two of them, his women, the two he felt closest to in the ‘verse. “Can’t say I approve,” he said, standing up slowly, feeling the ache in his knees. “But thanks.”

“No need, sir,” Zoe said, pouring warm water from the pot on the stove into a bowl. “Better get this cleaned and dressed.”

“Yeah.” Mal moved the only other chair in the hut next to Freya and sat down.

“I can do it, sir.”

“No. You did your part. Let me do mine.” He smiled at his Corporal, then looked into Freya’s face. “This probably’s gonna hurt.”

“Like I said, I've had worse.” She took a deep breath, focussing on his blue eyes. “Just do it.”

He took hold of her wrist and laid it across the bowl, using one of the swabs from the kit to gently wash her wrist. She twitched as skin peeled away, dried pus dropping into the water below.

“Sorry,” he said, not looking at her, just getting on with the job in hand.

“It’s okay,” she said through clenched teeth. “Just don’t be surprised if I throw up.”

He almost smiled. “You likely to?”

“Hate the sight of blood. ‘Specially my own.”

“Then I’ll be careful.” He carried on, and the water in the bowl turned pink. Eventually he was as satisfied as he could be, lifting her hand up. “Zoe.”

She took the bowl and went to the door, flinging its contents into the mud outside.

With gentle, careful fingers, Mal dried what he could, then snapped open an antibiotic ointment ampoule, smearing the contents around Freya’s wrist before wrapping first a dressing, then a bandage around the skin under the cuff. She was panting slightly by the time he’d finished, a faint sheen of sweat on her forehead.

“Done,” he said, holding her hand.

She exhaled, the pain already receding, being replaced by a more pleasant numbness. “Thanks, Dr Reynolds.”

“You know, I coulda been,” Mal said, sitting back, still with her hand in his. “Doctor, engineer … even considered being a Preacher once.”

“A Preacher? You?”

“The urge didn’t last that long, I’ll admit.”

“And instead you end up here, on the losing side, as the guard reminded me.”

“Losing side, yes. Wrong one … jury’s still out on that.” He squeezed her fingers. “Feeling better?”

“Much.” She looked up at Zoe. “Thanks.”

“What are friends for?”

“I wasn't sure we –“

“Just glad to help.” Zoe busied herself closing the med-kit again, stowing it safely under one of the mattresses.

Mal shook his head very slightly, and Freya understood. “You always gonna look after us?” she asked, just enjoying the feel of his hand on hers. “When they finally let us out of here?”

“Do you need looking after?” he asked in turn, chuckling. “Seems to me Lieutenant Nordstrom never needed anyone to look after her.”

She shrugged. “Things can be deceiving, Mal,” she said softly.

“Guess maybe they can.” He didn’t move for a moment, then let go of her, hurrying to stand up. “Well, nearly chow time, don’t want to be late.”

“No,” Freya said, stretching her fingers wide, still feeling his skin on hers, trying to ignore the need inside. “Can’t possibly miss that concoction they consider food.”

“Protein, all the colours of the rainbow,” he agreed. “But it keeps us alive. Still alive, Frey. No matter what.”

She saw the darkness cross behind his eyes, and couldn’t help it. She reached out with her mind, feeling the emptiness inside him, the despair that threatened to well up and overwhelm him, seeing the only tenuous grip he had being his concern for what remained of the men under his command. Without it he thought he would be nothing, just a shell. It made her want to hold him, comfort him, tell him the truth, show him how he really was. But instead she just nodded. “Still alive, Mal.”

He didn’t know she’d read him, but a flash of understanding passed over his face, and it made her ache.

“Come on,” he said, picking up his coat and shrugging into it. “Otherwise all the best seats’ll be taken.”

She managed a smile. “And Bergen will be on his third helping.” She stood up. “Like he needs more weight.”

Mal laughed and led the way out into the cold air. There would likely be a frost, making the mud beneath their feet hard and crisp by morning, but right now it was a slog towards the refectory.

As they walked, Freya looked down at the metal cuff on her wrist, now sitting more comfortably than it had in weeks.

No name. Just a number. 390385. And a place. Rehabilitation Camp – Santo.

to be continued?


Tuesday, April 17, 2007 8:27 AM


To be continued? A wholehearted yes, please.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 2:07 PM


Excellent, I loved this. Hope you keep going and show us glimpses of Mal, Zoe and Freya inside the camp and how Mal and Freya's friendship deepens. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 12:48 PM


TBC? Uh...hell yeah! You have to continue this! We need pre-series explorations of Mal and Zoe, and stat!




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“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!]

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"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 ...]

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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.]

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“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

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[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

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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.
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[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

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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.

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“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!]