Like Woman, A Mystery - Part VII
Monday, November 26, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. After the storm and things begin to settle down. NEW AND CONCLUDING CHAPTER


The thunder and lightning gave their last hurrah a little before dawn, and shortly after the winds began to subside.

In the kitchen Mr Boden lit the fires again, then went outside to see if he could get the generator going, and to determine what other damage might need fixing. Mrs Boden started to prepare breakfast for when anyone needed it.

In the yellow drawing room, Freya was asleep, her head pulled into the crook of Mal’s shoulder where they lay on the carpet, the throw from the sofa covering them. Mal himself was listening to the storm moving away, hopeful now that the house wasn’t in any more danger of flying off its foundations, while upstairs there was quiet conversation.

“Will you tell them?” Sam asked, stroking Inara’s hair, teasing out the tangles with his fingers.

“Of course.” She lay across the bed, her head on his chest, only a sheet covering her. “Frey will know anyway, but I don’t think the others will mind.”

“I got the distinct feeling that Mal might decide to shoot me if I hurt you again.”

She twisted enough so that she could look into his face. “Are you planning on doing that?”

“No. Never.”

“Good. Then I’m sure Freya will stop him.”

“That’s … I’m glad.”

They lay quietly for a few minutes, then Inara asked the question that had been plaguing her most of the night. “So are you staying?”

“Can I?”

She turned over, resting her chin on him. “Do you want to?”

“I thought it was therapists who answered a question with a question,” he pointed out.

“Sam …”

“I’ll stay. If you let me. I don’t need to work if I don’t want to, at least not for the money, and Dr Yi can take on any of my patients who might want to see me. But I’m not quite sure what I’d do here.”

“Love me?”

He lifted his head. “That, I think, goes without saying.”

“Will you tell your daughter?”

“Dhira will love you. And perhaps she can come to visit.”

“That would be nice.”

“In a few months.”

She smiled. “That would be nicer.” A thought occurred to her. “Of course, you could still practice. I have clients occasionally who come to me for counselling. We could … we could do it together.”


“I was a Companion, Sam. I had extensive training in helping people, and not just in bed. And sometimes there are couples who need help, who need a masculine point of view …” Her voice trailed away, but her eyes were hopeful.

He considered it for a moment, then smiled. “A different venture. Out here. Helping people who need it, not just because it’s fashionable and they can pay.”

Inara sat up, suddenly excited. “And those that can could subsidise those that can’t.”

He lifted himself onto his elbow, smiling at her. “You could end up being famous. People beating down your door just to be counselled by you.”

“Then we’d be discriminating.”

He reached out and touched her face, looking so young without all the make-up, so tender and optimistic. “You know we could still –“

She put her finger to his lips. “No. We might, but don’t tempt fate. It’s a new day, Sam. A new beginning.” She leaned forward, her hair brushing his shoulders, her breasts against his chest, and kissed him thoroughly.


Down in the yellow drawing room, Mal’s light doze was interrupted by the buzzing of the com link he’d left on the table. Reaching across Freya, trying not to disturb her, he picked it up.

“Shh,” he said into it.

“Huh?” Hank’s voice echoed tinnily around the room.

“What is it?” He kept his voice low.

“Storm’s gone.”

Mal glanced towards the still barred and shuttered windows. “Yeah, I figured that.”

“So, do we get breakfast?”

“Depends. Is Serenity okay?”

“She’s fine. Weathered it well.” There was a snorting sound.

“Did you just make a really bad joke?”

“Who, me?” His guilt managed to convey itself very well over the ether. “Would I do that?”

“Hmmn. Okay, give it fifteen then come on over.”


“Just do it, Hank.”

“’Kay.” The link went dead and Mal put it gently down on the carpet.

“What were you planning on doing in fifteen minutes?” Freya asked, opening her eyes.

“Thought you were asleep,” Mal said accusingly.

She stretched, her skin rubbing against him. “Not any more.”

“You keep doing that and we’ll find out what I can do in fifteen minutes,” he warned.

She grinned. “I think you’d better hold that thought.” Her stomach rumbled. “It seems like I’m hungry.”

He put his hand on her belly. “Thought held.” He sighed. “Suppose I’ll be getting dressed, then.”

“I suppose.” She didn’t show any sign of getting to her feet.

“You know. Just to be decent.” Nor did he remove his hand.

“Better be that.”

“Wouldn’t want to frighten anyone.”


They gazed at each other.


Nineteen minutes later, slightly breathless, they walked into the kitchen and found the rest of Serenity’s crew already eating.

“Where were you?” Hank demanded. “We could’ve starved waiting for you.”

“My fault,” Freya said, sitting down and grabbing a slice of toast. “I didn’t want to wake up.”

“After the night we’ve had, I'm not surprised,” the pilot said, grinning. Then he winced as Zoe kicked him under the table.

River smiled knowingly at Jayne, who grinned back.

“Rough,” the big man said, chuckling like a bear growling.

“Very,” River agreed. “It’s something of a mess outside,” she said, turning back to the others. “A lot of trees have come down.”

Mal stiffened, and Freya began, “Not –“

Zoe shook her head. “No. The one Mal vandalised is still there.”

Freya laughed. “Good. I’d hate for him to have to mutilate another one.”

He leaned over her and took a bite out of her toast. “That was done for love, xin gan.”

“And that’s my toast.”

“There’s plenty more,” Mrs Boden said, putting a large dish of scrambled eggs on the table.

“Yum,” Bethany said, helping herself to a great mound.

“Honey, are you going to be able to eat all that?” Kaylee asked, eyeing it doubtfully.


“And no feeding Fiddler under the table,” Simon said warningly.

“’Kay, Daddy.” She smiled winningly at him. “Just hungry.”

“You’re not the only one,” Mal said, watching Freya fill her plate too, and a smaller one for Ethan. “You don’t get to leave the table ‘til you’ve finished it.”

“Tyrant,” Freya whispered good-naturedly.

“Absolutely.” He grinned and took a healthy helping himself.

The door opened and Inara walked in, Sam at her side.

“Ooh, coffee, excellent,” she said, sniffing the air and smiling at everyone. “And good morning.”

Most of the people around the table stopped eating and stared at them. Only Freya, River and the children continued.

Mal coughed slightly, as if a fragment of toast had caught. “Uh, good morning,” he said eventually.

“Did you …” Hank began, but winced again. “Dear, will you stop doing that? I was only going to ask –“

“I know what you were going to ask. And it’s none of our business.” Zoe picked up her fork and began to eat.

Inara smiled and sat down, Sam pushing her chair in before taking the seat next to her. “Mrs Boden, the catch on my bedroom window broke last night. Could you get your husband to have a look at it? It doesn’t matter if it’s not today, as I shall be moving into Dr Nazir’s room for the time being.”

Mrs Boden didn’t even blink. “Certainly, Miss.”

“Thank you.” She picked up the coffee pot and looked at Sam. “Shall I be mother?” she asked as the sound of Zoe hitting a choking Hank on the back filled the kitchen.


“So?” Freya cornered Inara as she was about to walk outside to inspect the grounds.

“Come on,” the woman said. “I think somewhere a little more private?” She nodded towards Bethany and Ethan who were helping Mr Boden by seeing how many twigs they could collect. Fiddler and Giselle were chasing each other through the trees, barking madly.

“Ah.” Freya nodded and they strolled towards the lake, arm in arm.

“Besides, I doubt there’s anything I could tell you that you don’t know already.” Inara said.

“Well, I gather you … talked.”

“We did.”

“A lot?”

“Quite a bit.”

“And was it … good?”

Inara laughed, more relaxed than she had been in weeks. “Freya, I know you have difficulty with other people’s sexuality sometimes, but this is me you’re talking to. Sam and I made love. Several times. And he made me feel … human.”

Freya was determined not to blush, but it quite didn’t work. “Human?” she asked, trying to get herself under control, but knowing her cheeks were warm.

“He insisted I had to be selfish. Every time I tried to do something, some trick to please him, he stopped me, asked me why I was doing it. He made me realise I could be pleasured. Literally.”

“That’s … good.” Freya looked into the distance.

“Oh, Frey.” Inara hugged her. “Be happy for me.”

“I am, I am,” Freya insisted, hugging her back. “And I'm glad Sam’s seen sense.”

“Not just him. Me too.” Inara let go and sighed. “Why is it that it’s only when you’ve lost something that you realise how much you needed it?”

“I think that’s pretty much what being a woman’s all about. Or a man.” She knew they weren't just talking about Sam, but didn’t pursue it. “So he’s staying?”

“Yes. We’re going to try a new venture, working together.”

“But not yet.”

Again Inara’s laughter rang out. “I think you know far too much for your own good,” she said, hooking her arm through her friend’s again. “No, we’re going to take some time to be together first. Then he’s going to invite his daughter, and then we’ll see.”

“Do you want us to leave?”

“No, no.” She spoke firmly. “You’re my family. And you can stay as long as you like.”

“It will probably only be a day or two more anyway,” Freya pointed. “You know Mal. Besides, I think that crate of Patience’s is burning a hole in his hull.”

“So you’ll be heading to Greenleaf?”

“That’s the plan.”

“Perhaps you’d deliver a letter for Sam. To his daughter.”

“Sure. No problem. After all, it’s what we do.”

“Mama.” Ethan ran up, holding out his arms to be picked up, and Freya responded.

“Hey there,” she said, smiling into her son’s face. “How’s the tree house?”

“Gone. But Mr Boden said he’ll put one up for next time.” He sighed, sounding so like Mal that Freya had to chuckle.

“Knowing Mr Boden it’ll probably have three floors and a gazebo,” Inara put in.

“Gazbo?” The little boy looked confused.

“Gazebo. It’s like a little house all by itself.”

“Oh.” He struggled to be put back down, and ran off, calling, “Bethie!”

Freya looked at her friend. “You know you’ve done it now. They’ll expect wonders.”

“They’re children. They’re allowed to.”


“So all’s well in the Serra household?” Mal asked, watching Freya as she changed Jesse in the nursery next to their bunk.

“Seems so.”

“Sam’s decided being an idiot shouldn’t be a lifetime calling?”

“He’s seen the light.”

“So was it them going outside last night? While we were …” He moved his hand backwards and forwards in a somewhat graphic gesture.

She laughed. “It was. Sam decided he knew how to be passionate after all.”

“You mean they –“

“No, they didn’t.” She picked Jesse up and cuddled her to her chest. “I don’t think anyone could have, not out there.”

“Could have been fun to try.”

“And get spit by lightning. Not a good idea.”

“Well, maybe not.”

Definitely not.” She passed him into their bunk, and sat on the bed, their daughter on her lap, yawning slightly.

“Sleepy?” he asked, his blue eyes tender.

“A little. Thought I might take a nap.” She lifted her legs up and settled back.

“Mind if I join you?”

She smiled. “Not at all. But I’m only going to sleep.”

“That I can live with.” He grinned and laid down next to her, Jesse between them. The little girl waved her arms around until he took her hand, feeling her tiny fingers wrap around one of his.

“Mama?” Ethan called, climbing carefully down the ladder.

“What is it, sweetheart?” Freya half sat up.

“Nothing. Just wanted to know where you were.”

His mother smiled. “We’re going to take a nap. Want to join us?”

Ethan grinned, the spitting image of his father, and scrambled up onto the bed, displacing Jesse then holding her carefully against him.

Mal looked down at his family, and felt warmth suffuse him. I love you, xin gan, he thought.

Always, zhang fu.

That’s good, he considered, closing his eyes. That’s real good.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007 1:29 AM


Great little tale from start to finish.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 3:16 AM


Lovely tale, as always! Looking forward to seeing what you have planned next!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 3:22 AM


Great tale - I loved the image of what it would take to finally get Inara to let someone in. I love their new business venture and see it as a great storyline down the road. So glad the two worked out the problems and loved the little glimpses into family life you give. Ethan and Bethie picking up sticks was precious. Hank being kicked by Zoe was palpable. Great job!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 7:29 PM


Loved this chapter, and Inara and Sam finally putting things right.

I have a feeling though that all this fluff is there to lull us and angst is on it's way.


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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!]