Like Woman, A Mystery - Part III
Thursday, November 22, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Freya and Sam talk, and he asks for her help. NEW CHAPTER


“I need your help.” Sam stood like a supplicant in the dawn light, his hands clasped tightly in front of him.

“My help.” Freya gazed at him calmly.

“With Inara.”


“What?” He looked surprised.

“I'm not getting in the middle of this, Sam. You go and fight your own battles.”

“I tried. Yesterday. She won’t talk to me.”

She studied him, his smooth olive face, his long black hair, caught back into the nape of his neck somewhat untidily for a change. His clothes were crumpled too, as if he’d slept in them.

“Did you sleep well?” she asked.

“I …” He was thrown for a moment, then recovered. “Honestly, no. I was trying to plan out a campaign of attack, but nothing worked.”

Freya smiled thinly. “You make it sound like a battlefield, and Inara’s the citadel to be taken.”

“I think she is. She’s the prize.”

“I'm not sure you’re who she needs, Sam.”

“I … I need her.”

“Is that enough?”

Sam sat down heavily in the wrought iron chair, not caring about the dew soaking into his pants. “I don’t know. I have to try.”

Freya sighed. She recognised the signs of love for sure, having seen it in the mirror often enough. Not that Sam would admit to it. Not yet. “Even if I talk to her –” She almost couldn’t take the hope in his eyes. “– you know it might not work. You’ve counselled too many people to really believe that it will automatically turn out right in the end. This isn’t a fairytale.”

“I know. And I have. I’ve told them to be realistic, to not rely on the one they love being the answer to everything.” He laughed hollowly. “Only I’ve just discovered it’s not the same when it’s yourself.”

Maybe he did know, Freya considered. “Were you like this with your wife?” she asked gently.

“Stupid?” Sam smiled ruefully. “Oh, yes. I’d spent so long telling myself that I didn’t need anyone, that I was so much better off on my own, yet when I saw her standing next to one of those crazy sculptures of hers, I … fell.”

“And you’ve fallen for Inara.”

He nodded, the smile gone, misery on his features now. “I have.”

“You hurt her.”

“I know.”

“Told her that everything she knew was wrong, that everyone she cared about was a barbarian.”

“I know.”

“I don’t know if she’ll forgive you.”

“Would you?”

“We’re not talking about –“

He stood up. “But you’re her friend. Almost like a sister. Would you forgive me for being so foolish?”

“Inara isn’t me.” She held up her hand to forestall his argument. “But I waited for someone for years. Forgave his foolishness. She might forgive yours.”

“I wish I hadn’t run.”

“You shouldn’t have. Even if you disagreed with what happened on Jiangyin, that was no reason to leave Inara.” She looked at him coolly. “And when this happens again? Which it will, don’t have any illusions. When you come up against something that doesn’t tally with the way life should be, that shocks you with its brutality? What then? Will you run again?”

He thought for a moment. “I can’t say,” he admitted quietly. “I wish I could, that I can change, if not accept what happens out here, at least understand it. But I can’t promise that, only that I’ll try.” He took her hand. “I'm only human.”

“That’s all any of us are.” Freya smiled. “Well, maybe not Jayne.”

His lips twitched. “You know, I like that man. He’s so … honest.”

“That’s Jayne. An honest, smiling villain.”

“I think you’re misquoting.”


“Will you? Talk to her?”

Freya sighed. “I’ll try.”

His face lit up, and not just with the sun’s first rays hitting it. “Thank you.” He squinted, and glanced at her from under his long dark eyelashes. “And I am sorry I interrupted you. Do you watch the sunrise a lot?”

Freya didn’t want to give him any details, in case he read anything into it, so merely said, “It’s special.”

“But you must see the sunrise around a planet often.”

“It’s not the same. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it’s nice to see it when your feet are on the ground.”

“On the ground. Grounded. You know, you may be one of the most grounded people I know.” He smiled. “You’re so certain about things. Your love. Your life. How do you do it?”

“Sam, maybe you don’t know me as well as you think.”

He laughed. “I've come to realise I don’t know anyone that much.” He looked around the orchard. “Have you ever read the story The Man in the Rorschach Shirt?” he asked. “It’s by an author from Earth-that-was named Ray Bradbury.”

“I don’t think so.”

“It’s about a therapist who suddenly realises he’s misheard and misunderstood everything his patients have ever said to him, and yet he’s still helped them.” Sam smiled. “I feel a little like that right now. As if I’m floundering.”

She smiled. “Well, maybe I can give you some advice to help you anchor yourself. Might be a good idea to woo her. Flowers. Poetry. Not saying it’ll work, but it won’t hurt.”


“Mmn. But only wild ones.”

He looked thoughtful. “Showing care but not that I'm trying to buy her. Good. Excellent.”

“I aim to please.”

Suddenly, with a quick movement that surprised her, Sam leaned forward and kissed her lightly on the cheek. “Thank you.” He hurried off.

She laughed softly.

“Sent him off with a flea in his ear?” Mal asked, stepped up behind her and wrapping his arms around her body. “Or do you let strange men kiss you when I'm not there?”

“Did I wake you?”

“Only in as much as you weren't there.”


“What for?”

“You seemed to be dreaming. I didn’t want to disturb you.”

“Only dreaming about you, xin gan.”

“That’s nice.”

“So … you seeing the dawn in again?”

She tensed a little. “Again?”

“Frey, you might think I don’t notice these things, but I do. I notice everything about you. Like I know how you like your cereal, with way too much sweetener in it. That you hate it when I squeeze the toothpaste in the middle. And how you like to sit out here and watch the sun come up.”

She coloured. “It’s just … it’s silly.”

“No. No it ain’t.” He turned her to look at him. “It means something to you, doesn’t it?” His voice was tender, his face more so.

“It’s a link to a different time.”

“A better time?”

“No. Just different.” She smiled a little shakily. “I didn’t know you knew.”

“Not the first time I've woken to find you gone from the bed. Only it doesn’t happen on board Serenity. Least, not that often.” He ran his finger down her cheek. “Mostly here. On Lazarus.”

“When I was a child, we used to go into the mountains during the summer, to get away from the heat,” she began. “We had a house there, just a rambling house that squeaked when the wind blew. My mother hated it.” She sighed a small laugh. “Alex and I loved it. And for five weeks every year we could run wild, go swimming, riding, or just find someplace to read.”

“Be a kid.” He remembered times like that, back on Shadow, but there didn’t have to be any sneaking about to enjoy it. His arms tightened around her.

“Yes.” She snuggled up to him, not just for warmth, but to feel his heart beating in his chest. “I’d creep out of the house a couple of times a week. I daren’t do it any more, just in case they found out. But I’d watch the sun come up over the horizon, and wonder what the day had in store for me. What my life was going to be like for just that time.”

“You mean you were a romantic even back then?” Running his fingers through her hair, he cupped the back of her head.

“Absolutely. Worse kind you’ve ever seen. Rose-coloured spectacles and all.”

“And you thought I’d make fun of you if I knew.”

She froze. “I … wondered.”

“If you want me to, I can. But I don’t intend to.” He pulled her head close enough so that their lips could touch. “I love you too much for that,” he whispered into her mouth.


“Inara, can I talk to you?” Freya leaned through the door, seeing the woman sitting at her dressing table, pinning her hair up.

“Only if you can give me a hand. I just can’t seem to make this work today.” Inara dropped her arms.

Freya smiled and walked up to stand behind her. “Bad night?”

“No. Well, maybe a little,” she amended, looking at her friend in the mirror. “I didn’t seem to sleep very well.”

“No. I think a few people had that trouble.” She took the silver corrugated pin from Inara’s fingers and put it between her teeth. “Sam, for instance.”

“Has he spoken to you?” Inara asked, half turning.

“Sit still.” Only it came out more like ‘fit ftiw’.

“Fine, fine.” She looked back in the mirror. “I suppose I have you to thank for those.” She touched a posy of wild flowers lying next to her makeup.

Freya shrugged, taking hold of Inara’s tresses and twisting them up into a knot. Holding them with one hand she slid the pin into the body of hair with the other. “Might be.”

“There was a poem with them.”


“I think it was one of his.”

“Fancy that.” Freya stood back. “There.”

Inara looked at herself critically. “I suppose it will do.”


“I didn’t mean it like that.” Inara sighed heavily. “I don’t know what to do, Freya.”

“About Sam?”


“Why don’t you talk to him?”

“I did. It didn’t get us very far.” She stood up and went to her bed, lifting the gauzy coat from it and sliding it over her arms.

“Inara, give the man a chance. He came here, waited for you. That must say something.”

“It does. But nothing’s changed. I still live here. Have friends amongst the nefarious.” She half-smiled at the look on Freya’s face, but became serious again. “He’s going to come up against things he won’t accept. And I can’t take it if I let him in and he leaves again.”

“Then tell him. At least he has the right to know where he stands. And if you want him to leave, you need to say.” Freya stepped closer. “Just don’t go cutting off your own nose to spite your face.”

Inara couldn’t help a soft peal of laughter. “I haven’t heard that in years! Not since my nurse when I was six.”

“My mother used to use it.” Putting her hand on Inara’s shoulder, Freya spoke softly. “But it’s true. If you want him, if you love him, you have to risk everything.”

“Is that what you did?” Inara wished she could take the words back immediately she’d said them, but Freya didn’t take offence.

“Yes. Every time, telling Mal how I felt, even though I knew he was going to shoot me down. I had to say.”

“But I’m not you.”


“I need someone I can count on.”

“Then tell Sam.”

“I don’t want to hurt him.”

“I know. But you can’t let this go on.”

“No, I suppose not. But … not today. I don’t think I can face him today.”

“Inara …”

“Thank you for doing my hair. But I have some letters to write, so I shall probably stay in my room.” Inara stood tall, her head high, and Freya knew she had been dismissed.


“Did you speak to her?” Sam asked, accosting Freya at the bottom of the stairs.



She looked into his hopeful eyes. “I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were you.”

“Then perhaps I should –“ He went to walk past her, to climb the stairs, but she stopped him.

“No. Leave it for a while. Let her think on things.”

“She’s going to tell me to leave, isn’t she?”

“Your gut instinct tell you that?”

“I don’t have instincts. I have reasoned thoughts and controlled emotions.” He smiled sadly. “But yes, my guts are telling me she’s going to want me gone.”

“Well, if that happens, I'm sure we can take you with us when we go. At least drop you at Greenleaf.”

He laughed, but it sounded hollow. “That’s where I started out. Not going home to Ariel after visiting my daughter, but coming here instead.” He shook his head. “It will be as if this time never happened.”

“It did, Sam. And who knows, maybe she won’t say no.”

“Your gut instincts telling you that?”

She wasn't going to peek, to look into Inara’s mind and see what she was thinking. “Just wait a while.”

“That’s all I have been doing.”

“Then you’ll be good at it, won’t you?” She smiled at him. “Now, I'm going to go and have breakfast with my husband, my son and my daughter.” She took his arm. “Why don’t you join us?”

“I doubt I’d be good company.”

“Then we’ll talk and you can listen. Think how boring that’s going to be.”

Sam had to laugh, and accompanied her into the dining room.

to be continued


Thursday, November 22, 2007 4:08 AM


Love the talk between Sam and Freya. She gave him very good advice. Now, if he'd only take it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007 4:47 AM


Your Mal/Freya moments just melt my heart. Lovely job, as ever!

Friday, November 23, 2007 4:21 PM


I know I havent been leaving comments but I have been trying to keep up with the story. Great job as always in finishing up the last arc, and this one has started off so well!
I'd say kick the bum to the curb, but that's just me, and what do I know, anyway? LOL Love this story line, and how well it flows. I'm addicted!


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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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[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!]