Paquin - Part IV
Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Mal and Jayne run into trouble ... Thanks for your comments, they really inform the writing process and point things out I hadn't actually thought about! Please keep them coming ... please?


Zoe was struggling to do up her pants. “Gorramit,” she muttered, pulling first one side, then the other, but neither wanted to meet in the middle.

“Honey?” Hank asked, turning from his shaving. “You okay?”

“Nothing fits!” Zoe sat down hard on the bed.


“Nothing rutting fits me any more!” She lay back, her hair spread out on the blankets.

He approached her cautiously, the foam still sticking to his cheeks. “That’s because you’re pregnant,” he said softly. “Kinda takes women that way. So I’m told.”

“But there ain’t one thing in here that fits me!” She nodded towards her pants. “And these are the biggest I’ve got!”

He sighed. He’d known this moment was coming, and had prepared for it, but it still wasn’t going to make things any easier. “Zo, sweetheart,” he began, “I think you’ve just gotta accept you ain’t gonna get into your normal clothes for the next few months. You got our baby inside you, and he’s growing. He’s gonna be a fine, strong kid, only that means he’s gonna be … well, probably big.”

“Big?” She glared at him. “How big? And it’s all your fault anyway.”

He sat down gingerly next to her. “I know that. And I promise I will never come near you with my lewd and lascivious body ever again. But would you take a moment to try and calm down?”

“Calm …” She hit him, a full fist right on the muscle of his arm. “Calm? Who the hell says I ain’t calm?”

“Um, me.” He rubbed the bruise.

She closed her eyes. “Damn,” she whispered.

“You know, I’m just kinda glad it’s only you that’s pregnant at the moment,” Hank said, his tone light and conversational. “I’d hate to think what it’d be like if Freya and Kaylee were expecting too. ’Cause I get the feeling us guys’d be living in the shuttles.”

“Am I that bad?” she asked, her eyes still closed.



“Don’t be. Be worth it at the end.”

“You think?”

“Only if you promise not to hit me again.”

She sat up and put her chin on his shoulder. “Sorry. It’s just …”

“You’re frustrated.”

“Big time.”

“Well, got something here might help.” He reached under the bed and pulled out a bag. “Inara thought these might come in handy.”

Zoe took the bag and opened it. Inside were a selection of tops and pants, all in softer material than she was used to, and all in pretty colours. “They ain’t me,” she said, reaching in and letting the fabric run through her fingers.

“No. Maybe not. But you don’t have to wear them right now.” He picked up one of the tops, a silky number in reds and golds. “Although I think they’d suit you.” He held it up to her skin. “Brings out the fire in your eyes.” He grinned.

“Yeah, well, that’s pretty.”

“And you can still wear your pants, just one of these over the top. Then it won’t show that you can’t get them done up.”

“But they’ll fall -”

“Not with these.” He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out half a dozen pieces of elastic, each with a loop at one end and a button at the other. “They’re kind of extenders. Make sure you stay decent.”

Zoe picked one up, turning it over. “You made these?”

He shrugged. “Seemed like a good idea.”

“So you knew I was going to …”

“I know my Zoe.”

“Seems like you do.” She stood up, picking up the flame top from the bag and going to the mirror, holding it up in front of her. “How big?” she asked.


They’d moved off at first light, neither of them having slept much. Mal had tried to contact Serenity, but the distance was too great for the small comunits, and something in the rocks was interfering with reception anyway.

“Great,” Jayne said. “I don’t got a good feeling about this.”

“This time tomorrow you’ll be tucked up warm in your bunk,” Mal assured him.

“Shoulda told him to wait. Crandall, I mean.” He watched Mal navigate the tight, winding trail through the narrow canyons, their speed now little more than walking pace due to the terrain.

“He was paying, Jayne.”

“Yeah, but that don’t mean we had to jump just ‘cause he whistled.”

Mal was thinking pretty much the same thing, but he wasn't going to let on. “Well, we’re here now. No point in turning back.”

“Guess not.” Jayne hunkered down in his seat, Vera on his lap.

“Just enjoy the ride.”

By mid-morning Jayne’s mood hadn’t improved, and he was fidgeting. “Can’t be far,” he muttered.

Mal checked their position. “Close.”

A small rain of pebbles hit the ground in front of them.

“Mal, that uncomfortableness just got a lot worse,” Jayne said quietly, flicking the restraining strap from his gun and gripping Vera tighter.

“Me too.” Mal couldn’t hold his weapon, but his hand was very close to the butt.

They turned a corner, but their way was blocked by boulders …


“What’s that?” Simon asked, stepping down into the galley

“A book.” Freya smiled at him from the seating area, Ethan wrapped up in blankets and asleep next to her.

“I can see that. I meant -”

“It’s one of Hank’s. You know, when I was pregnant with this little one – “ She glanced down at the little boy next to her and stroked his cheek. “ - when you wouldn’t let me out of the bunk - I read so many of these I … well …”

Simon smiled as he poured a coffee. “Got addicted?”

“Something like that. I mean, they’re all alike. Change the names and you’ve got another book. The story’s always on the lines of boy meets girl, boy loses girl. Boy goes off to fight war. Boy comes back, finds girl’s married someone else. Someone else dies, boy and girl live happily ever after.”

“That complex.”

“Oh, and you can throw into the mix that the girl hears, erroneously, that the boy’s been killed in battle, and marries on the rebound, but won’t be unfaithful to the man who took her in.” She grinned and held up the paperback. “Ninety percent of these have happy endings. No wonder Hank thinks he can write one and make a packet.”

“Really?” Simon smiled over the mug.

“Oh, yes. I have it on good authority that he’s got at least half a manuscript already, and he keeps working on it.”

“And what is this opus about?”

“Well, as far as I can gather, it’s about the captain of a sailing vessel and his handsome, yet modest pilot, where the crew includes a doctor and his sister …”

Simon laughed. “I think I want to read this before he submits it to anyone.”

Freya shook her head. “He’ll never finish it. Not now Zoe’s pregnant.”

“Yes, I think he’s got quite a lot on his mind. That top Zoe had on at breakfast was quite amazing. I didn’t think she owned anything like that.”

“I don’t think she does. I’d take a guess and say Inara gave it to her. Something to do with clothes not fitting too well at the moment.”

“You haven’t peeked?”

“I don’t do that, Simon.”

“No. I guess you don’t.” He gazed at her thoughtfully. “Is that what you want? A happy ending?”

“Is that wrong?” Freya glanced down at her son. “Oh, I know I’ve got Mal and Ethan. All of you … it’s just, sometimes, it’s nice to leave it up to somebody else.”

“Even if they’re authors who should know better?”

She laughed. “Even then.”


The men appeared from the rocks, nearly a dozen of them, all armed. Jayne turned quickly, looking behind them. Three more, big guns.

Jayne glanced at Mal. “This ain't good,” he murmured.

“Think that might be an understatement.” Mal leaned forward. “Looks like there’s been a landslide,” he called, keeping his voice light. “You gents care to help us clear it?”

One of the men stepped forward, his greasy hair overhanging his forehead, his clothes looking like they were made up from someone else’s cast-offs.

“Not likely to happen.” He hefted a shotgun in his hands, and didn’t look like he was unhappy about using it.

“Really? Thought it’d be neighbourly.”

“You ain’t no neighbours of ours.”

“Pity.” Mal looked at them, smiling. “Then maybe you can tell us another way round. Gotta get these goods to their owner.”


Mal felt Jayne stir next to him. “Could be. You know the man?”

“We’ve met.” He looked at the man next to him. “Thrown most of us off our land.”

“Nothing to do with me, friend.”

“Ain't your friend, neither.”

Mal tried again. “Look, I ain't too sure what beef you’ve got with Crandall, only we’ve kinda get caught in the middle of it. We’re just doing a job here.”

“Ain't that a shame,” he said. “Only, you know, I don’t exactly care.”

“Really.” Mal attempted a smile. “Then we’ll be on our way.”

“Nope, that ain’t gonna happen either. You’re gonna give us all that pretty stuff you got on board.”

“Ain’t mine to give.”

The man went on as if he hadn’t heard. “Then you’re gonna get down off that fancy ride and take a walk.”

“Now, you see, walking ain’t exactly my favourite form of exercise,” Mal said. “What is is between my wife and me, but the walking … not so much. So as this vehicle is mine, and the goods behind me belong to someone else, we’re at something of an impasse.”

The man stared at him. “Come again?”

“Basically, no,” Mal said succinctly.

“That’s a real shame. ‘Cause there ain’t no-one around here who’s gonna help you. And bodies go missing up here all the time.”

Mal didn’t look at Jayne: didn’t have to. “Can’t we come to some arrangement?” he asked, knowing the big man’s hands were ready. “I don’t want to kill you, and you don’t want to be dead. ‘Sides, my friend here’s son is getting married, and you wouldn’t want to make what should be the happiest day of his life into the saddest, now would you?”

“Only arrangement I see is you getting buried.” There was the click of safeties being removed.

Mal sighed as a sift of snowflakes started to fall. “I was afraid you’d say that.”


“Can I talk to you?” Simon asked, sitting down in the chair next to Freya.

She smiled. “Sorry, I sidetracked you, didn’t I?”

“That’s okay.” He glanced down at Ethan. “How is he?”

She put her hand on her son. “He seems to be okay. Just a bit sleepy.” Her eyes narrowed. “Why?”

“Oh, no, it’s not that I want to talk to you about.”

She relaxed a little. “So, what did you want to talk about?”

“Freya Reynolds.”

She chuckled, a bit surprised. “That’s me.”

“Only it isn’t.”

“Funny, I thought it was.”

“That’s who you are now. But it wasn’t who you used to be.”

“Where are you going with this?”

“It’s something that came to me. I just wondered … Does it matter to you that you’re not Elena Rostov any more?”


Jayne was fast, his handgun booming in the confined space, and two men fell immediately. Mal was firing too, and the man who had threatened them went down, his hand clutched to his shoulder. The others scattered to cover.

“No kill shots!” Mal shouted, ducking down, emptying his gun towards the bandits.

A shotgun blast hit the canyon wall next to Jayne’s face. “Tell that to them!” he grunted, still shooting.

Mal thrust his weapon back into his holster and gunned the hover mule, throwing it into reverse. “Clear the road.”

Jayne nodded, dragging Vera into view and pumping shells into the ground in front of the men blocking their way. They ran back, ducking out of the way as the hover span on its axis and flew forward.

Mal grinned, then felt something thud into his chest, and suddenly he found it hard to breathe.


“What are you talking about?”

“I can’t give Kaylee another baby. But maybe there’s a way round. If I can find a donor willing to supply -” He stopped, seeing the colour leach from Freya’s face. “What is it?”

Freya ignored him, just ran for the engine room. “Kaylee! How long?” she demanded.

Kaylee was half inside the engine housing. “Gonna be a few hours yet,” she said, looking up, then stopped as she saw Freya’s white face. “What is it?”

“We need Serenity. Mal’s hurt.”

“What? What happened?”

“I don’t know. Serenity?” Freya prompted.

“Sorry, but no. Maybe two hours.”

Freya shook her head. “Not quick enough. Have to be the shuttle. Kaylee, take care of Ethan.” She turned to Simon, who’d followed her. “Get your stuff,” she said, heading past him towards the cargo bay.


“Mal!” Jayne shouted, pointing towards a rocky outcrop coming up real fast. He turned, saw the captain slumped sideways in the seat. He dragged him out of the way, just managing to regain control in time, swinging the hover around and straightening her up. He glanced down. Mal was conscious, just, but there was a bloom of blood on his shirt. “Ching-wah tsao duh liou,” he muttered, but it wasn’t clear who he meant.

Up ahead he could see a cave system, one they’d passed on their way in, and he turned the hover towards the furthest one, big enough for the hover to get inside. He needed to check Mal over, mah shong.

to be continued


Tuesday, May 8, 2007 1:23 AM


Really nice balance between character development and action. Loved all the conversations, especially the Mal-Jayne one. Your understated way of upping the angst was a great touch.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007 10:30 AM


Gotta say...Hank handled his conversation with Zoe about her weight well. Rather too well in fact, even for someone who's gone through it before. Though I guess one can get lucky occasionally;)

And the shuttle better get to Mal fast, cuz while I know you won't/can't kill Mal....I don't need any close calls to be fogging up my brain:(


Wednesday, May 9, 2007 12:56 PM


Really glad that Freya sensed something had happened to Mal as I have the feeling time will be of the essence. Loved all the conversation between Jayne and Mal, also how much Jayne's instinct was making him all manner of unhappy about the whole gorram job. I'm with him a hundred per cent on that one. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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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?”
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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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“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!]