Tall Ship - Part VII
Saturday, December 8, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Jayne's unhappy, and Mal plays in the snow while Freya and Zoe do the job. Not quite 2BF, but a bit longer to make up for it. NEW CHAPTER


“Here.” Hannah held out a couple of crutches.

“For me?” He smiled. “You shouldn’t’ve. Didn’t know it was my birthday. But they ain‘t wrapped.”

“Be like that and I’ll take them away again.”

“No, please, I love them.” He chuckled. “Just what I always wanted.”

“Well, you’re healing quick, and I think a little light exercise won’t be too bad for you. Just so long as you don’t try leaping around quite yet.”

He shook his head. “Never even considered it.”

“No, course not.”

They laughed together, easy in each other’s company.

“So I'm being given the run of the place?” he asked, moving himself forward so his legs hung off the edge of the bed.

“There’s not much of a place to run, but some fresh air might put some colour in your cheeks.” She leaned forward, doing up the shirt she’d given him to wear. “But you have to keep warm. I've got one of Ben’s old coats out for you – the sleeves might be a bit short, but it’ll do.”

He grinned at her. “And I’m grateful. You know that.”

She blushed and turned away. “Well, a body has to be helpful.” Going to the fire she picked up his boots. “Good job you didn’t lose these in the river,” she said, giving herself a moment by brushing imaginary dust off them. “Ben’s would never’ve fit you. He had small feet. Almost dainty.”

“Don’t think that word’s ever been used to describe me,” he said, knowing exactly what she was doing. “So, you planning on hugging them to death, or do I get to put them on?”

Hannah glared at him. “I’ll have you know it took me ages to get them soft. The leather had soaked up a load of water, and when they dried they were stiff as … well, I thought I might have to throw them out.” She held them out. “I worked hard on these.”

“And they look shiny.” He glanced down at his stocking feet. “’Cept I’m thinking I need help getting them on.”

She smiled. “That I can manage.”

“Ben, come on!” Jonah shouted from the doorway. “We’ve built a snowman, but we need you to help finish him off!”

“I'm coming fast as I can.” He sighed. This seemed awfully familiar too, like so many things he’d heard and seen, and felt, over the last couple of weeks. But he’d given up chasing the thoughts, especially since that night. He’d woken up feeling like his guts were being pulled out of him, and it had made him cranky the whole of the next day. Not again. At least, not yet. He took a deep breath and looked at Hannah. “Well?”

The smile became a grin. “Yes, your lordship,” she simpered, holding back the laugh in her throat, and went down on her knees to put his boots on.


Jayne was bored. Bored and no closer to figuring out what had gone wrong with Mickey Dyle. The man didn’t seem to have any acquaintances, let alone friends, and no-one cared enough to be able to tell him anything. The only fact he knew was that Dyle was dead. Trouble was, the itch hadn’t gone yet, and he knew, in those tracker senses he‘d honed down the years, that this thing wasn’t over yet.

Francine, the madam at the whorehouse, watched him playing Patience. He appeared to have all his concentration on the game, but as he’d missed the red six on the black seven, she figured that appearances could be quite deceptive. She sat down next to him.

“You look like a man with problems.”

“Nope.” He picked up the cards and pulled them back into a single stack, shuffling them over and over.

“Only that’s about the fifth time you didn’t wait to see if the game panned out.”

“Just knew it wouldn’t.”

She studied him, the carefully clipped goatee, the short hair and the blue eyes, and the overwhelming impression of barely controlled violence. “You need some sexing.”

He glanced up at her, then raised his eyebrows. “That your professional opinion?”

“It is.”

He laughed. “Think you’re right. But my woman’s a long way from here, and doing it myself just ain’t as satisfying.”

“Be glad to help.”

“Well, thanks, Francine, but I’ll wait.”

She sat back, crossing her arms to push her breasts even higher in their cages. “So why are you still here? Why ain’t you gone back to that filly of yours?”

“Can’t. My boat ain’t headed back this way for another week or so, and … hell, Francine, I’m just bored.”

“If you’re that stuck for something to do I could -”

Jayne never found out what she was about to offer, as the door almost sprang off its hinges as it opened, and a huge man ducked inside. He almost blocked out the light, and Jayne’s hand strayed close to his gun.

The man in the heavy coat peered through the gloom, searching the various faces looking round at him.

“What can I do for you?” Francine got to her feet. “Looking for company?”

“Looking for a man.”

“Well –“

He didn’t let her finish. “My cook. Damn fool got off the boat two days ago and no-one’s seen him since.”

Jayne sat up.

“What’s his name?” Francine asked.

“Pi Tai.” The man shook his head. “You’d know him if you’d seen him. Got a scar down his cheek.” He ran his thumbnail down the left side of his face from eye to chin. “Reckons it was a knife fight, but I’m more sure it was just someone got tired of his whinging.”

“Then why’re you looking for him?”

“Got a long haul coming up, and he may be rotten at virtually everything else, but he’s a damn fine cook. Makes that crud we have to eat almost taste palatable.”

“Well, I’m sorry to say he ain’t come through here. I see everyone before they go anywhere with my girls, and there’s been no-one looking like that.”

The man sighed. “Then someone else’s gonna have to do the cooking. Can’t wait for him.” He wrapped his scarf tighter around his neck. “If’n you do see that sorry ass of a man, tell him he’s forfeited his share of the last job, and not to expect to see me coming back.” He turned in the doorway. “He wasn’t that good with a skillet.” He strode out, the door banging in its frame behind him.

Francine shook her head. “Not surprised his cook jumped ship, captain like that.”

Jayne just put the cards back on the table and stared at the door.


He had enjoyed himself. Even though he was aching and his knees felt like they were made out of jelly, the clean cold air had cleared his head a great deal. Watching the snowball fight that had developed between Hannah and her children had helped too, especially when he got in on the action from the chair they’d put out for him. His aim turned out to be pretty good, and it was only when they ganged up on him that he cried mercy.

“Hey, I’m injured here, remember?” he said, brushing snow out of his hair.

“That he is.” Hannah looked down at him, her hands on her hips. “And it’s getting cold. So everyone inside.” She looked at her son. “Take Rachel in and get her warmed up. Dry socks’d probably be a good idea too.”

“Yes, Ma.” The boy took hold of his sister’s hand and they ran indoors.

“You too.” She smiled. “Go on in. I’ll just get some more wood.”

He grinned. “Can I help?”

“You able to swing an axe?”

“Uh, probably not.”

“Then go inside and get warm yourself. If you want to do something, put the water on to heat. I fancy some tea.”

“Earl Grey?”

“What?” She looked puzzled.

“It’s a tea.”

“Never heard of it. Must be fancy.”

“I … I suppose.” Another half memory tempted him, of delicate hands holding a bowl, of red satin, of … but it was gone again.

“It’ll come back.” Hannah spoke very softly.

“You saw it?” he asked.

“On your face.” She made herself smile again. “Go on inside.”

He managed to get to his feet, balancing on the crutches. “Yes, ma’am.” Feeling stronger with every step, he followed the children, sorry to leave the dazzling white and freshness outside, but inordinately glad to be in the warm.

Finding he couldn’t take the borrowed coat off, he leaned both of the crutches against the table, himself between them, and managed to get his arms out. It didn’t even hurt that much, either. He glanced towards the outer door. Hannah was a damn good nurse.

Experimenting a little, he stood straighter, wondering if he could make it unaided to the closet to hang the coat back up, but decided not to push it too far for one day. Instead, he hooked one crutch under his right arm, and used it to help him along. Opening the door, the light hit a long brown duster coat hooked on the wall.

His eyebrows pulled together. It looked so familiar, and he had the irrational urge to pull it around to look at the left sleeve, see if there was a jagged tear been mended. No, not a tear. A bullet hole. He shook himself. There wouldn’t be, because this wasn’t his. He could see that from the length, from the way the sleeves would be too short. Must be Ben’s. But he’d had a coat like that, and it was mended, and there was … This felt odd. Very odd. And pretty uncomfortable. He wanted to remember, to know what all these fleeting impressions meant, but there was also a part of him that didn’t. He felt … settled. Happy. This wasn’t his family, but he knew they could be. And his memory coming back would change all that.

A wave of guilt flashed through him so strong that he had to lean on the doorframe. Shaking his head he reached up and hung the coat he’d worn over the other, hiding it from view. Then he saw the rifle standing at the back of the closet. He lifted it out into the light.

Definitely not his either, he knew that. There were no voices, no flashes of imagery, but it was a good weapon. With sure hands he opened the breech and peered inside, checking it for dust and rust, but it was well looked after. He was about to put it back when he heard voices outside. Keeping the gun in his hand, he hobbled across to the window.

Hannah was talking to a man on a horse, who was smiling down at her, except the smile wasn’t friendly, and it made his trigger finger itch. He couldn’t hear what they were saying, but Hannah didn’t look happy. In fact her knuckles were white from where she was gripping her armful of logs so tightly.

He was about to go outside, offer his help, when the man on the horse laughed, and tugged on the reins. His mount shied a little, but turned, galloping off. Hannah waited until the rider was out of sight, then hurried into the house.

“You okay?” he asked.

She looked at him. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I saw -”

She interrupted him, glancing down to the rifle in his hands. “You seem to know what you’re doing with that.”

“Sorry. I saw it and I … you keep it clean.”

“Ben showed me how.”

“Did he teach you how to use it?”

She nodded slowly, closing the door. “I … he said I had to, especially with kids around. Keep us safe when he was out seeing to other folks, being the good doctor he was.”

“He was right.”

“I hate the damn thing.” The vehemence in her voice surprised him.

“Why? It’s just a tool.”

She dropped the logs by the fire and turned on him. “I’ve seen what they do, remember? It was a bullet I pulled out of you, and you’re not the first.”

“Hannah, it’s the way of life out here. You can do your best not to get involved, but sometimes -”

“It ain’t right!” There were two spots of colour in her cheeks.

“No, I guess it’s not.” He stepped towards her, the crutch squealing a little on the wooden floor. “But you have to be able to defend yourself.”

“Ma?” Jonah had come out of the back room. “You okay?” He glanced uneasily between them.

“It’s all right,” his mother assured him quickly, dragging up a smile. “Ben and me were just disagreeing over something.”

“Sounded more than that.”

Hannah shook her head. “Folks disagree all the time, Jonah. Now go back and get to your books. I expect you and Rachel to have done those sums by the time I come in.”

“Ma …” He put a whole lifetime of pleading into the one word.

“Go on, now. I let you play in the snow with Ben, but that doesn’t mean you get out of school work. What would Ms Tennyson say if she knew I was letting you shirk?”

“But it’ll be ages before we can get back to -”

“Jonah. Books. Now.”

The boy heaved a sigh from down in his boots, and turned back inside. “Yes, Ma.”

“And close the door.”

“Yes, Ma.” He did as he was told and they were alone again.

“You need to sit down,” she said, busying herself taking off her coat. “Don’t want you falling over, first day up.”

“I won‘t.” He watched her a moment. “So who was he? The man you were speaking to?”


“I know what I saw.” He narrowed his eyes a little. “Hannah, who is he?”

She made a dismissive motion with her hand. “He’s just a neighbour. Came to see if we were okay, if we needed anything.”

“It didn’t look like that.”

“Well, you don’t know everything.”

There was more, he was sure of it, but he was also sure she wasn‘t going to tell him anything else yet. But at least he could be ready. “Where’re the bullets for this?” he asked, lifting the rifle a little.

“In the closet. On the shelf.”

“You should keep it loaded.”

Hannah glared at him. “I have two small kids. I ain’t keeping a loaded weapon in the house.”

“You have two small kids. And there ain’t a friendly face for miles. Keep it loaded.” He hobbled to the closet and pulled out the box of ammunition. “Put it high up somewhere, but you keep it loaded.” He didn’t look at her, didn’t need to see the revulsion on her face, but didn’t let it stop him either. Something was going on here, and she needed to be sensible. He sat down at the table and began to thrust the shells into the chamber.


Hammond was a moon like most of the others, with green areas along the shores and rivers, and the rest covered in scrub and dust. Hank manoeuvred Serenity in to land at the drop point on top of a slight hill, just beyond the perimeter of a large house.

“Nice place,” he commented as he shut down the Firefly‘s engines.

“Expensive,” Zoe said, checking her Mare’s Leg at her thigh.

“Then that’s how come he’s paying well.” He turned and smiled up at her.

“We’re only here to drop the goods. Then we’ll head back to Three Hills.”

His good humour vanished. “Do you think Jayne’s right? And that man Dyle wasn’t the man who killed Mal?”

The mercenary had waved a couple of days before, too far out of range for vid, but they’d pored over his message for a long time.

“In this instance, I think I’d trust Jayne’s judgement.” She shook her head. “And believe me, I never thought I’d be using those words in the same sentence.”

“I know what you mean, hon.”

She looked beyond him, out of the bridge window. “Looks like we’ve got a welcoming party.”

Hank stood up. “Well, since Jayne’s not here, it looks like I’m the closest thing you’ve got to a mercenary.”

“I’m not expecting trouble, Hank.”

“We never do, Zoe. It just seems to find us.”

He followed her down the stairs into the cargo bay, where he was surprised to see Freya waiting, her gun strapped to her hip.

“Frey?” he ventured. “Should you be -”

“Let’s get this done.” Freya barely looked at either of them, just pressed the button to open the bay doors.

Hank exchanged a worried glance with Zoe, but she shook her head slightly as the bright sunlight of Hammond washed in. Turning to the opening, Hank found he was having to squint to see, but as his eyes became adjusted he could make out half a dozen men walking up the slope.

Freya and Zoe descended the ramp, and if the men were surprised at being met by two women, none of them showed it.

“One of you Captain Reynolds?” One of them, better dressed than the others, stepped forwards.

“I'm Freya Reynolds.” If it wasn't quite the truth no-one was going to enlighten him.

“I'm Emerson Crosby. Got my goods?”

“Got my money?”

Crosby grinned, showing two of his front teeth were gold. “Like the way you think, Ma’am.” He pulled a leather pouch from his pocket. “Got it right here. Now it’s your turn.”

She didn’t move. “Hank.”

The pilot dragged a crate out from inside the bay, his face red with the effort.

“Good condition?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Freya said, her eyes cold. “Didn’t look.”

Crosby nodded. “Then you won’t mind if I check.”

She shrugged. “Go ahead.”

He turned to his men, signalling to one of them, who moved to the crate, a crowbar in his hand. It was only the work of a moment to rip the lid off and reach a hand inside. It came out with a rifle, one of the new laser assisted types, guaranteed – or so the advertisements said – to hit dead centre every time. The man handed it to Crosby.

“Looks good.” He sighted down the barrel.

“If the other crates are the same, you’ve got enough to start a small war,” Freya noted. “And highly illegal. Seems to me these don’t get exported without special licence.”

Crosby shrugged. “I've got problems with marauders. Coming in, taking what they want and leaving bodies behind, and I ain't got the time to be pursuing the legal means.” He patted the gun. “This’ll make sure they don’t do it more than once more.” He narrowed his eyes at her. “You got a problem with that?”

“Not a one. What you do on your own world is none of my business. Now, the money.”

Crosby grinned and tossed her the pouch. She didn’t even bother to check it, just passed it to Zoe.

“You know, we could do with a few good gunhands,” Crosby said. “Never can have too many.”

Zoe looked at Freya, and realised she was seriously considering the offer. She stepped in, shaking her head. “We have places to be, Mr Crosby.”

Freya glanced at her, and Zoe was taken aback by the ice in her eyes, but she said, “That’s right. Need to get moving.”

“Then we’ll load up the mule and –“

A ricochet from Serenity’s hull whined away before the sound of the gunshot registered in the hot, dry air.

to be continued


Saturday, December 8, 2007 3:55 AM


Excellent chapter! You're setting up all kinds of different angles in this story and so many possible ways it could go - wow. Loved the kids in the snow. Loved how Mal was repelled by Freya's pain, not drawn to it. The man is a survivor after all, but I'm waiting to see with what you come up with as the trigger to pull him back to his responsibilities. Fabulous story - just still want more!

Saturday, December 8, 2007 4:58 AM


Loving this story, but please I need Freya and Mal back together!

And you're setting up something else too on Hammond that could go wrong.

You are evil!

Saturday, December 8, 2007 5:41 AM


Uh oh, who fired that shot? I too loved the snowscene with Mal and kids at play and like Mal didn't like that man that came by, it felt as if he was either threatening Hannah or warning her. Glad that Mal was thinking of how best to protect them should something bad happen. Can't wait for the next part. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, December 8, 2007 9:29 AM


You have this story spreading out all over and every one of them is interesting.

Saturday, December 8, 2007 3:04 PM


Wonderful work as always. But I think I'm going to be very sad for Hannah before this is all over!


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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!]