World Without End - Part XV
Monday, January 21, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. After the wedding, some conversations ... and a little bittersweet ending. CONCLUSION (and I'm feeling better, thanks. Heading straight into SLENDER THREAD now.)


Conversations after …

“Did you know about this?” Simon asked, cornering Freya as everyone surged around the tables piled high with the wedding breakfast, despite it now being gone noon.


“The tattoos.”

“No, I didn’t. But I think it’s entirely appropriate.” She smiled. “And it’s kinda nice.”


“It’s a commitment, Simon. They love each other, and to them it’s going to be forever.” She glanced down at her own hand, at the two rings Mal had placed there so often. “And tattooed rings just go to prove it. You know Jayne’s going to spend the rest of his life making sure your sister’s happy, don’t you?”

“However long that is?” He couldn’t help asking. Jayne was still a gunman, and their lives were still dangerous at times …

“However long.”

He looked at her, into her clear hazel eyes. “Can you … see?”

She shook her head. “No. I don’t have that ability. River can, to some degree. Possibilities, at least, if not certainties.”

“She was certain Jayne was going to die.”

“Just goes to prove she’s not always right. But we all do. In the end. Just not today.” She smiled. “But they’re together now, and River will keep him alive as long as she can.”

“I suppose.”

“I know it’s hard for you. Having given up everything for River, and now having to let her go, to give her to someone else to look after, it‘s hard. But she’ll still be the same young woman tomorrow as she was yesterday. And she will always be your sister.”

He finally grinned. “You mean I can’t stop her calling me a boob?”

“I doubt it. Boob.” She pushed him gently. “Go on. Your wife’s looking for you.”

“Too late,” said the woman herself, coming up behind him and kissing his neck. “Have you seen your daughter lately?” she asked, nibbling on a strawberry. “Either of them?”

“Why, have you lost them?” Simon asked, looking around.

Kaylee shook her head. “Not lost. Mislaid.”

Freya laughed. “Oh, I don’t think they’re too far away.” She leaned down and lifted the corner of the cloth over the table next to them.

The young mechanic went down onto her heels. “Bethie?”

The little girl looked out, a ring of jam around her mouth and a plate piled high with pastries in front of her. “Hello,” she said. “We’re having a party, Momma.”

“So I see.” Kaylee looked at Hope and Ben sitting together, Ethan next to them with his sister balanced against his leg, all somewhat sticky. “And is it a nice party?”

Bethie grinned. “’Es,” she said, spraying a few crumbs. “’S’why I needed a new dress.” She brushed at her skirt, leaving a smear of red on it. “Can we have some juice? Please?”


Over by the window Mal lifted River’s left hand, studying the intricately woven design around her third finger. “Jayne do this?”

She nodded. “And I did his. Are you shocked?”

“No. Why, should I be?”

“Because it isn’t a ring.”

“Albatross, you just married Jayne Cobb. Nothing’s likely to shock me for a good long while after that. ‘Sides, I gave up expecting you two to do anything normal a long time ago.”

“They won’t catch in weapons,” she explained. “And it is forever.” She giggled. “Like two hearts, pressed against one another when making love, initials bound together inside …”

He wasn’t going to blush. It was very important that he didn’t blush. “They’re private, River,” he said quietly.

She glanced down at his hip, where the evidence of his passion for Freya sat hidden, if permanently engraved, then back into his blue eyes. “Ours is just more public.”

“Have to say, it’s kinda pretty,” he acknowledged, head bent over her hand, determined to change the subject away from his and Freya’s matching hearts. “The way it intertwines.”

“It’s a continuous loop, never ending.” She sighed. “Like us.”


“All of us. Death isn’t an end, Father, just a different state of being.”

“I told you I ain‘t -”

She laughed, stopping him with a kiss to his cheek before skipping delicately away to find her husband, her dress floating gently around her bulk.


Hank chewed down on a chicken leg, and sighed.

“Better?” Zoe asked, putting her arm around his waist.

“Oh. Much.”

“Didn’t feel like breakfast, eh?”

“Don’t,” he implored. “If I’d even thought about food before the ceremony, we’d have had to get married over the toilet bowl.”

“Somehow I don’t think that would have been legal. As well as being more than a little disgusting.”

“Honey, anywhere you said I do would have done for me.” He grinned, then took another mouthful of meat. “By the way, did I tell you how beautiful you look?” he asked, a little indistinctly.

“Oh, only about a dozen times.” She smoothed the oyster satin over her hips, giving him something of palpitations.

“Well, when I get to a hundred, let me know.” He swallowed quickly. “How soon do you think we can sneak away?”

She looked at him, her face suddenly impassive. “Are you suggesting what I think you‘re suggesting?”

“Probably.” He waggled his eyebrows.

Her full lips curved. “I think we have to stay a while. Since we’re one of the happy couples.”

“Could be happier,” he muttered, moving closer to her.

“Down boy,” she whispered.

“That might be difficult.”

“Think of freezing showers.”

“Oh, I am.”

She laughed throatily and turned away to take one of the glasses of sparkling water from a young man wearing a green collar, showing the laces down the back seam of her dress, the coffee skin between, almost all of the way down to her … Hank quickly tried to bring to mind ice cubes and snow storms, and cold, cold seas …


“… but I’m hoping she’ll be coming for a visit in a few months,” Inara said, sipping at her wine.

“You let me know when, and I’ll make sure Serenity drops by,” Mal replied. “Bethie’d never forgive me if Noni came home and she wasn’t there.” He thought for a moment. “You need a lift? Back to Lazarus, I mean.”

“No. But thanks. I’ll be leaving the day after tomorrow on the Zanzibar. We’ll be swinging around to Ariel, and I’m hoping Sam will have finished what he was doing and can come back with me.”

“Sam, eh?”

She ignored Mal’s grin. “He’s good company.”

“I’m sure he is.” He couldn’t resist it. “So what’s it like, getting sexed up without getting paid?”

She regaled him with an icy glare. “Better than you will ever know, Mal.”

He held his chest. “You wound me deeply.” He laughed, and saw Inara’s lips twitch.

“Captain Reynolds.”

Mal turned to face Sir Warwick Harrow. “Glad you could make it,” he said, smiling.

“Thank you for inviting me.” Harrow bowed his head. “Miss Serra.“

“Sir Warwick.” She smiled sweetly at him. “It’s lovely to see you again.”

“Particularly under such happy circumstances.“ He chuckled, looking at Mal. “You know, it makes a change for us to meet without the imminence of bloodshed.”

“Day ain’t over, so I wouldn‘t go counting my chickens just yet,” Mal advised.

“That’s an … interesting saying.”

“One of Frey’s. My wife has a wealth of them.”

“You are doubly blessed.”

“So she keeps telling me.” Mal grinned.

“But you’d normally expect violence at a wedding?” Harrow asked.

“Seems lately that a number of the ceremonies I’ve been to haven’t exactly ended in a normal manner.”

Sir Warwick’s chins disappeared into his chest with amusement. “One of these days you’re going to have to tell me about some of them.”

“Oh, please, don’t encourage him,” Inara implored.

“You can tell who your friends are, can’t you?” Mal said, shaking his head.

“Indeed you can. But in the meantime, I have a proposition for you. Some cargo I need moving off world to my estate on Achaeon.”

Mal raised his eyebrows. “That would be discreetly, I’m guessing.”

“You could say that. There would be a further package to come back.”


This time it was Harrow who looked surprised. “How did you know that?”

“Someone mentioned it to me once. How the best ones come from there.” Mal studied the older man. “And what would this cargo be you‘d want us taking out?”

“Oh, something you’ve carried for me before.”

Mal’s face fell, and Inara laughed delightedly.


“I’m so proud of you, Jayne,” Mrs Cobb said, sitting on one of the chairs by the wall. Her son was next to her, holding her hand.

“Ain’t nothing to be proud of, Ma,” he insisted. “Just a man in love.”

“Now don’t you go saying that.” She swatted him on the arm. “You’ve found yourself a beautiful wife, a family … I can be proud of you if I like.”

Jayne coloured a little, just across the tips of his ears. “So when’re you headed back to Ezra?” he asked, needing to change the subject.

“Not for a week. There ain’t a transport until then.”

“You know, I could ask Mal if -”

“No!” Her voice was sharp, but she smiled. “Your Captain’s done so much for us, made sure we were here … I can’t let you ask him.”

“He wouldn’t mind.”

“No, Jayne.” Her tone would brook no objection. “’Sides, passage is paid. And I get to act like a lady of leisure, all the way home.” She smiled.

“You always were a lady, Ma.”

“You’ve grown up a sweet talker,” she said, ruffling his hair. “Must get that from your Pa.”

“Ma …” he complained, pushing it flat again like a little boy, not a grown man.


Freya sat outside the hall on the bench in the garden, her eyes closed as she took in the perfumes from the different flowers and trees. There was even the hint of the odour of warm stone behind her, and she found it surprisingly relaxing.

“Penny for them?”

She smiled, not looking up. “I’d be overcharging.”

Mal sat down next to her. “Thought you’d be inside, chatting to Dillon and Breed.”

“Oh, I have been. I just needed some air. A little space.”

“Want me to go?“


Mal put his arm around her, snuggling her closer, enjoying the feel of the sunshine as well as her body next to his. “By the way, got us a job, ai ren.”


“Sir Warwick’s asked if we can deliver some cattle to Achaeon for him.”

She turned to stare at him. “I thought you didn’t do cows?”

“It’s good money, Frey. Means we don’t have to go to Badger this trip, either.”

“Then I think we can put up with a little discomfort for a while. Jayne’ll just have to -”

“He’s staying. Him and River.”

Her eyes wide, she went to ask why, then realised. “Mrs Cobb.”

Mal nodded. “It was Jayne’s idea, but River’s all for it. It’ll just be ‘til their transport arrives to take them back to Ezra.”

“You know, we could -”

“I offered.” He pulled her a little closer. “Jayne said his Ma wouldn’t, so this is the best compromise.”

“And River? Mal, she’s getting close to her time.”

“Still a month to go.”

“But if she needs a doctor -”

“I suggested Simon stay too, but she wasn’t too keen on the idea.”

Freya chuckled. “Oh, I can imagine what she said.”

“I think the least of it was along the lines of she wasn’t going to have her brother along for her honeymoon.” Mal laughed. “You’d think I’d suggested she marry him, not Jayne. But she assured me the baby won’t come early.”

“I guess she should know.”

“Anyway, it’s just a ten day trip to Achaeon and back. I think she can manage ‘til then. And Shepherd Seymour’ll make sure she gets anything she needs.”

“So will Jayne.”


They sat quietly in the sunshine for a while, then Freya stirred. “Did I hear music?” she asked.

“Think so. Some of the brethren were getting out instruments when I came to find you.”

She stood up, smoothing her dress. “Dance with me?”

He pretended to study her. “You know, I’ve had bad experiences in the past, dancing with beautiful young women. Some I’m not sure I’d care to repeat.”

“Too late for that,” Freya said, holding out her hand. “You’re already married to me.”

He got to his feet, pulling her into his arms. “Is that the case? So I can take advantage of you whenever I like?”

“Dance first. Advantage later.”

He grinned. “Now that’s the kind of deal I can live with.” He kissed her gently, then they walked back inside.


What was, is now, and shall be, world without end …

Freya was sitting on the floor of the common area, teaching Ethan how to spell using the carved wooden blocks Jayne had made, putting out simple words and seeing if he could work them out. Jesse was fast asleep on the yellow sofa next to them, cuddling one of her soft toys.

“C … o …w …” He stopped sounding out the letters and looked up at her. “Cow?” he asked, his eyes shining brightly, glancing towards the cargo bay from where gentle mooing could be heard and the warm smell of flatulent beasts occasionally made itself known.

“That’s right.” She smiled at him and chose another word.

He frowned in concentration. “E … t … h …”

“Remember, t and h made a ‘th’ sound.”

“E … th … a …” He grinned. “Ethan!”

She laughed. “That’s very good!”

“Me, Mama!” He hooked his thumbs into his little suspenders, and pulled, looking just like his father.

“You!” She grabbed him and pulled him into her lap. “You’re going to spell better than Bethany,” she predicted. “Bethie takes after her Daddy.”

My Daddy can spell.” He puffed up with pride.

“I know. He doesn’t like people to find out, but he can.”

“I love my Daddy.”

“And he loves you.”

“’N’ I love my Mama.” He snuggled against her.

She felt her heart swell. “And I love you too, sweetheart.”

Ethan laughed, and reached for the bricks. “Another!” he demanded.

“Okay.” His mother leaned forward, arranging another word. “Try that one.”

“S … i … m … o …” He froze.

“What is it? You’re doing so well.”

“Mama …” He looked up into her eyes, and she could see he was scared.

“What is it?”

Ethan didn’t answer, just looked across towards the common area.

Bethany stood in the doorway. “Uncle Jayne,” she said softly.

Freya got to her feet. “Where?”

“Uncle Mal’s talking to him now.”

“Thanks. Look after Ethan and Jesse, would you?” She ran up the stairs, heading for the bridge. She could hear Mal’s voice, see him sitting in the pilot’s chair.

“You want us to talk to Harrow? See if we can turn around?”

Jayne’s deep bass filled the small room. “Nope. Least, not yet. There’ll be a cremation tomorrow, but we’ll take her home to Ezra to be buried, and maybe you could -”

Mal nodded. “Be a week or so, if we drop this livestock first, but we’ll come and pick you all up, take you home.”

“Thanks, Mal.”

“Was it … was it easy?” Mal asked.

“Nope. Dying never is. But if you mean, did she suffer? No.” Jayne sighed. “We’d been talking, laughing, discussing the baby and names and such, and Ma had been full of ideas, plans. Then she said she was sleepy, and she was gonna take a nap. Didn’t wake up, is all.”

“I'm sorry, Jayne.” It was obvious he meant it.

“Yeah. Me too.”

“How’s River?”

“She knew it was coming. Made sure I was ready. Don’t make it no easier.”

“Yeah.” Mal sat up straighter. “I‘ll let you know when we‘re close.”

“Thanks.” Jayne smiled a little. “Least I was there. Both of us were there. And that’s not nothing.”

“No, Jayne, it’s not.”

Mal reached out and switched off the static.

“Mrs Cobb?” Freya asked softly.

He turned the seat around so he could look at her. “Yeah. Yesterday.” He held out his arms and she hurried into his lap, wrapping herself around him.

“She saw them get married. She knew she was a grandmother.”

“That she did. More’n anyone thought she’d see.” He tightened his arms around her waist.

“Is Jayne going to be okay?”

“He has River.”

She sighed, a smile tugging at her lips. “They’re quite a pair, aren’t they?”

“That they are. Mr and Mrs Cobb. Has something of a ring to it, don’t it?”

“I prefer Mr and Mrs Reynolds.”

“Oh, me too, ai ren. Me too.” He pulled her face down to kiss her, replacing the sadness with an affirmation of life.



Monday, January 21, 2008 3:28 PM


Loved this to bits. Sad about Jayne's ma but at least she got to see her son married and a peaceful death is better than most folk in the 'verse seem to manage. Loved all the little Mal/Freya moments and little Ethan realising something was wrong. Poor Jayne. And cows! I can't believing they're transporting cows again! LOL. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, January 21, 2008 5:42 PM


I was getting ready to have a contented, fluffy sigh when Mrs. Cobb passed, but it was just the right touch.

Monday, January 21, 2008 5:59 PM


A great story Jane for all the sad ending. KNew it was coming but still a heartbreaker. Well done, as usual.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 7:00 AM


Nicely done. I was hoping Mrs Cobb would make it to see the new baby but at least she made it to the wedding.
Sweet story all around.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 4:19 PM


He pulled her face down to kiss her, replacing the sadness with an affirmation of life.

I loved your last line. It says so much with so little. Wonderful story.

Saturday, January 26, 2008 9:01 AM


Sorry I'm so late to the party. Computer problems. Anyway, lovely ending!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 8:48 AM


Cant add to whats been said.. Hearwarming and heartbreaking.
LOVED IT!!!!!!


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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!]