Like Woman, A Mystery - Part V
Saturday, November 24, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. The storm has arrived, and is having an odd effect on the crew. Pleasse comment. NEW CHAPTER


Hank was staring out at the storm, feeling the Firefly rock slightly on her supports. A flash of lightning illuminated the interior of the bridge, and he shivered.

“We are okay, aren’t we?” Zoe asked, coming up behind him.

“Sure we are.”

“Can you sound a bit more confident?”

He twisted in his seat and looked up at her. “Zo, this boat’s been through wars. I don’t think a little wind and thunder’s gonna hurt her.” He flinched as a roll of vibration seemed to rattle the console.


“She’s spaceworthy,” he explained as he turned back, running an experienced eye over the panels. “The wind can’t get in where atmo can’t get out, but … I'm just a bit worried something might … well, that we might roll over. It’s not like Serenity’s that small.”

“Her belly’s on the ground, isn’t it?” Zoe put her hand on his shoulder.

“Yes, but –“

“Then she’ll be fine. She’s a good ship.”

“You’ve got to say that. You’re first mate.”

“And you’re the pilot. I've seen you having words with folks who dared say bad things about her.” She leaned over, running her hands down his chest, breathing onto his neck. “Can’t say you haven’t.”

“No, well …” He paused. “What are you doing?”

She'd begun unbuttoning his shirt. “Not sure. What does it look like I'm doing?”

“We can’t.” He clamped his hands over hers.

“Why not?”

“Because if anyone … if Mal found out he’d … I don’t wanna get keelhauled.”

She bit his earlobe. “He’s in the house.”

Hank twisted enough to look her straight in the eye. “What’s gotten into you?”

Another flash lit her face, the slightly hooded expression, the swelling of her lips. “Find storms … erotic.”


Taking advantage of his indecision, she kissed him. “Really.”


“Tall!” Freya announced, laying down her cards.

“Gorram it!” Mal glared at the revealed faces. “How’d you do that?” Then his eyes narrowed. “You peeking?”

“No. Just better at cards than you.” She sat back and folded her arms. “Pay up.”

“Look, this really ain’t a good idea.”

“You agreed.”

“Yeah, but that was when I thought I was gonna win.” His words were punctuated by several crashes of thunder, each heels upon the other.

“Are you trying to get out of this?”

“No. Well, yeah.”

“I'm going to have to tell everyone you welched on a bet. How do you suppose that’s going to make me feel? Being married to a low-down, dirty welcher?” She managed to make her eyes look moist, almost as if she was going to cry, which he could have believed if her lips weren‘t twitching.

He grinned slightly. “Ain't low-down.”

“Then prove it.”

“What if anyone comes in?”

“Who?” She bit her lip in thought. “Let me see. Inara’s in her room. Sam’s in his. The Bodens are in their own quarters.” Shaking her head she gazed at him. “Nope, that’s it. For about another eight hours or so.”



“Might be ten hours.”

“So you expect me to sit here and twiddle my thumbs for nearly half a day?”

“Might be fun. Watching you twiddle.” He crossed his arms. “Go on. Show me.”

“You lost. You show me.”

They stared at each other for maybe twenty seconds as something heavy hit the wall outside and rolled along, then Mal laughed. “Fine.” He stood up and dragged his suspenders off his shoulders.

“Hey, slowly.”

“This ain’t a striptease, ai ren,” Mal complained.

“Why not?” she joked.

“’Cause you only won the one hand.” He undid his buttons, making it as un-striptease like as possible, then pulled his shirt off and tossed it onto the sofa, incongruously pulling his suspenders back up. He sat down again. “Deal.”

“You sure you trust me?” Freya asked, barely able to control the bubbling laughter threatening to spill from her throat.

“Just deal.”


Inara lit the scented candles and breathed deeply. Better. Much … a crash of thunder rolled through the room, vibrating the windows in their frame. A second, and a third, barely a gap between them.

She jumped, her hand going to her throat, then grimaced. “Honestly, Inara,” she said out loud. “It’s just a little noise. What on earth is there to be afraid of?”

But she knew. She understood the feeling of being trapped, of not being able to run, to escape, with the sound and the fury outside trying to batter their way inside, to reach her to tear her limb from limb and make her bleed until there was nothing left but cold ashes and dust to leave her to –

“No!” She almost screamed the word, her voice covered by another peal of thunder. Then, much quieter, “No. Won’t do this. I am Inara Serra. I'm stronger than this. I'm in control. Nothing here is going to harm me.” Still, in the back of her mind she wondered where Sam was.


“I thought you’d be watching the storm,” Simon asked, leaning in the doorway of their quarters.

“I was going to,” Kaylee admitted, folding one of her clean tops and putting it away in the drawer. At least when they came to Lazarus Mrs Boden always did the laundry, and it smelled of flowers.

“So …”

“I went up to the bridge.”


“Hank and Zoe are up there.”

“I say again, so? I’m sure they wouldn‘t have minded you joining them.”

“Oh, I’m pretty sure they would’ve.” She smiled tightly.

“You mean they’re …” Simon glanced up towards the upper deck.

“Looked in the window ‘fore I walked in, otherwise …” The ship shuddered slightly, and it seemed to transfer to her, and she shivered.

“Are you all right?”

She shrugged, and picked up another shirt. With trembling hands she began to fold it. “Sure. I’m shiny.”

He was next to her in a moment, taking it from her and putting it down. “Tell me the truth. I’m your husband. I can take it.”

She gazed at him, then said, in a small voice, “Don’t like storms, Simon. Never had. Phoros hardly ever got any, but when they did … lost family in one once. Coupla cousins.”

“Oh, bao bei.” He gathered her into his arms. “Then why did you want to watch?”

“It’s easier. I can see it’s just wind and rain, and a little electricity. That’s what keeps Serenity in the air, and I can cope with that. But down here, it’s like someone’s trying to shake the life out of her, and it … well, it scares me.”

He stroked the hair from her face. “Come on.” He led her towards the bed.

“Look, as much as I appreciate the offer, I don’t exactly feel like -”

“Lay down,” he ordered. “Please.”

“Simon -”

“Just do it.”

Muttering something under her breath, she sat down and pulled her legs up, settling stiffly back against the pillow. Simon climbed up next to her, laying his body against her length. “Don’t see as how this is gonna help.”

“Trust me. And close your eyes.” He reached up and turned the lights down to a dim glow, then wrapped his arm over her. “Nothing is going to harm you, my meili wife. Not while I’m here. And I plan on being here a long time yet.” He began to stroke her arm, just his thumb pressing gently into the soft skin on the inside of her wrist up to her elbow.

Her eyelashes fluttered. “Might fall asleep,” she warned.

“That would be fine.” He drew his hand slowly from her shoulder down to her waist.

She could feel his fingers graze her breast. “Might not.”

“That would be fine too.” He smiled. “Concentrate on me, Kaylee. Nothing else.” He kissed her lips so gently it was like a butterfly’s wing. “Nothing else.”


“Did you lose that last hand deliberate?” Mal asked accusingly, watching as Freya undid her pants and peeled them from her legs.

“Now why would I do that?” She sat back down.

“’Cause you felt sorry for me.” He was only dressed in his shorts: every other item of clothing lay on the sofa.

She smiled. “Do you really think I’d stop before you were naked?”

“Not usually, no.”

She leaned forward, gathering the cards and starting to shuffle them. “Should be an interesting game,” she said.

“Nope.” He put his hand on hers, pushing them down to the table top. “No more.”


“No.” He pulled her to her feet and wrapped her in his arms. “No more games.” He pushed her backwards until she was against the sofa. With a sweep of one arm he pushed his clothes onto the floor, and laid her down gently.

“Mal, aren’t we supposed to be keeping watch or something?” she asked, her voice getting throaty.

“You wanted to play Strip Tall.” He nuzzled her neck.

“I did at that.” Her eyes half closed. “How long do those lights last?”

He looked up from his task in surprise. “About twenty hours. Why?”

“Oh, nothing. Just thought perhaps we should conserve their power. In case we might need it.”

“There’s plenty more of them in the store,” Mal pointed out, running his finger down the crease between her breasts. “Enough to light this place like a carnival.”

“Still, waste not, want not.”

He lifted his head to look into her dark eyes. “How many more of these sayings’ve you got?”

“Hundreds,” she admitted, her tongue darting out to scrape across her lips. “On all sorts of subjects.”

“Then I’ll look forward to each and every one of ‘em.” He smiled. “But for right now …” He reached across and picked up the lamp, turning it down until there was just the faintest of glows. “How’s that?”

“Off,” she insisted.

“But then I won’t be able to see you.”


“O-kay.” He flicked the switch and the room tumbled into noisy darkness. Then … “What’s that?” he asked, his eyes adjusting and realising he could still see her in flashes.

“Lightning,” she said softly. “I can feel it. Almost continuous. Getting in around the gaps, down the chimney, through the floor …” She groaned, pressing herself up against him. “Mal … What if someone comes in?”

He didn’t answer, just moved his face down to hers.


“The crashing or booming sound produced by rapidly expanding air along the path of the electrical discharge of lightning.”

Jayne looked at River, standing facing the storm on the small bridge of the shuttle. “Yeah? You know, my Ma used to say it was God movin’ furniture about. Course, that was when I was a kid. But she was still telling Matty the same thing when he was scared.”

“I used to watch the lightning storms over the mountains from my room. Mother used to get upset, said I was inviting it inside the house.” She shrugged. “A small tale to frighten a smaller child. But I still found them … exciting.”

“Exciting? How?”

“Fire from the sky. Bursting through the clouds and up from the earth. Knew the why and the how, but the flash made my blood sing.”

“Figure maybe it still does.” He gazed at her, and realised she was counting. “And you can’t hear the thunder properly. Why’re you doing that?”

I can hear. And it’s still coming.”

He put his hand around her waist, feeling her vibrating. “You okay?”

“Feel … odd,” she admitted.

He tensed, concerned. “You need your bro?”

“Not that kind.” She turned to look at him. “Need sex. Now.”

His arm tightened. “How come? Not that I’m saying no, but -”

“Too much. Feel it.”

“Moonbrain, I ain’t got an idea what you’re talking about.”

For answer she slid the straps of her dress from her shoulders, letting the fabric fall from her like liquid. Pale, slim, taut, her form was illuminated by another flash of lightning as Jayne’s breath caught in his throat and he growled.


Sam was pacing in his room. Back and forth, up and down on the thick carpet. He almost wished it were bare boards, so he could hear the crack of his heels on the woods, but he had to make do with counting his steps from one side of the room to the other. Not that he’d have heard his heels, not with the noise going on outside. It sounded like a battle. If he’d ever been in a battle. He’d seen docudramas on the Cortex, of course, like everyone else, recreations of the Battle of Serenity in particular, but never actually been in one. Still, he had a fairly good imagination. Shells bursting overhead, explosions, the cries of … His head went up. Someone had shouted. He was sure of it. Someone had just called out, in fear. Inara.

He was out of the door and along the corridor before he realised he hadn’t taken his lantern, but he didn’t care. Bursting into her room he saw her trying to close the French windows where they’d blown open, the wind whistling through the slats in the shutters and making the curtains dance around her. He crossed the room swiftly, and between them they managed to close the windows, but the catch was broken.

“Get something,” he ordered, using all his weight to stop them flying open again. “We need to wedge it.”

Inara nodded, running for the heavy oak chair by the fireplace. Dragging it across the carpet, they pushed it against the window. It held, but barely, the glass rattling in the frame.

“You can’t stay in here,” Sam went on. “It isn’t safe. If that goes again …” He put his hand under her arm. “Come on.”

She let him lead her out into the corridor and back to his room, closing the door firmly behind him. “Thank you,” she whispered, shivering.

“You’re cold.” He whipped a blanket off the bed and wrapped it around her, rubbing her arms through it to create heat. His hands slowed as he realised what he was doing, realised how close they were to each other, how much he … “Inara …”

She looked into his eyes, about to lean into him, but stepped back. “No, Sam.”

“Inara, please.”

“Nothing’s changed.” She turned away from him, unwilling to look into his olive face. “Nothing.”

That movement sent a jolt of anger through him, like the flash of lightning that rent the sky outside and rolled thunder through the room. He grabbed her arm. “Yes, it has. I have. Why can’t you see that?”

She glared at him, the tension in the room about to erupt into a conflagration.

to be continued


Saturday, November 24, 2007 3:19 AM


Those were some interesting storm reactions! I really had hope for Sam there for a minute! :D

Saturday, November 24, 2007 3:36 PM


There certainly "something" in the air of that storm!


You must log in to post comments.



Now and Then - a Christmas story
“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!]

Monied Individual - Epilogue
"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 ...]

Monied Individual - Part XX
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.]

Monied Individual - Part XIX
“His name’s Jayne?”

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

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

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

Monied Individual - Part XVIII
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.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

Snow at Christmas
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

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

Monied Individual - Part XVII
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.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XVI
He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XV
“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!]