Fixed - Part IV
Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Still fluffy. Mal and Ethan spend some quality time together. NEW CHAPTER


“Daddy!” Ethan ran up to his father, a handful of late flowers clutched in one little fist. “For Mama,” he said proudly, handing them over.

Mal looked at them. “Shouldn’t you be giving these to your Ma yourself?”

“Later.” He grinned and scampered off again.

Mal looked at the little posy and shook his head, smiling ruefully as he tucked them into his shirt. They were likely to be limp by the time they got back to the house, but he knew Freya would treat them like the biggest and most expensive bouquet she’d ever received, probably pressing one or two of the petals in the journal she kept, and her son would love her even more.

Not that it was hard to love her. Not in the slightest. It only took one look at her, her short brown hair (even if one or two were starting to turn silver), those hazel eyes that read his thoughts off the back of his skull, the tattoo flaming up her back … he just had to see her to want to love her. Which he’d proved the night before when he walked in on her taking her bath.

She was floating in the delicately scented water, her eyes closed. She knew he was there, of course, and her lips twitched as his gaze ran down her naked body. The scars ghosting across her skin were now merely shadows, echoes of what had been, and if she was slightly softer from carrying two children, it was the kind of softness that pulled at his soul, made his heart beat faster, and took blood away from his senses to a far more responsive organ altogether.

“You gonna stand there all night and watch me?” she asked, still not looking at him, the words echoing in his mind as much as in his ears.

“Not sure,” he said. “The view’s pretty breathtaking. Might be considering seeing if I can capture it on paper. You know, for posterity.”

“Could make a fortune.”

“Could at that.”

“Your very own Mona Lisa.”

“Mona who?”

There was a pause. “Water’s just right.”

“It looks it.”

“And I’m comfy.” Now she opened her eyes, gazing into his blue orbs. “So why don’t you join me?”

He smiled. “That an invitation?”

“It is.”

The smile widened. “Don’t mind if I do.”

When they finally fell into the large bed, pulling the sheet over their damp bodies, neither of them had the energy to do more than snuggle into place, him on his back, her against him, her head on his shoulder, falling asleep in moments.

“Daddy?” Ethan brought him back to the moment. “Can we go down to the beach?” He was standing with his thumbs in his suspenders, his head slightly on one side.

“Well, we’re headed that way,” Mal said. “Why do you want to? It ain't warm enough to swim.”

“Skipping stones,” the little boy said, turning and running on ahead. “You said you’d teach me.”

“Careful, Ethan,” Mal called.

“’Kay, Daddy!” He barely slowed.

Mal couldn’t help smiling. He remembered being … if not that young, but certainly young enough to find pleasure in every new thing, whether it was a handful of slightly wilting flowers or his father’s ability to make stones skip across the surface of the water. Not that he knew if his own Pa had been able to do that, but he wouldn’t be surprised. Something like that seemed to run in families. And he did remember him making a kite once, that time Harry and Vinnie were staying, and his Pa and Uncle Zach had spent most of one day working on it. They flew it out in the back pasture, watching it catch the wind and dance with it. One of his few memories of being with the man who loved him something fierce …

“Daddy!” Ethan pointed towards the strip of beach, and began to run faster.

“Ethan, wait up!” Mal shook his head. That he did remember. Not having the sense to look before he leaped. As if he’d actually grown out of it. He began to run himself, his boots pushing through the long pale stems of autumn. “You know your Ma ain't gonna be happy if you fall in, and I’ll be the one gets the blame.”

Then all at once he was at the top of the low slope leading down to the sand, and he tried to stop, but the grass was dew dampened and his feet slid out from under him. He landed with a thump on his buttocks, jarring his teeth. “Da-shiong bao-jah-shr duh la doo-tze,” he began, but as he tried to stand up the soil beneath him gave way. He barely had time to register a large puddle of water at the bottom of the slope before he was sliding towards it, his momentum making him roll until he landed face first in about three inches of liquid.


Mal opened his eyes, blinking water out of them and levering himself onto his hands and knees. He sneezed loudly, expelling more water from his nose.

“Daddy? You okay?”

He looked up, seeing Ethan standing next to him, looking worried. “Oh, I'm shiny,” he managed to say, trying to get rid of the grit in his mouth by spitting. “Not hurt, Ethan.”

“Mama will be cross with you,” the little boy said, still not sure if his father was about to keel over. “Getting muddy.”

“Yeah, guess I am a little,” Mal agreed, sitting down and looking at himself. The rain water had concealed a thick layer of mud, and now it was all stirred up into a sludge, and as he lifted one hand it dropped off his fingers with a splat.

Ethan shook his head. “Messy,” he sighed, scratching at a small globule that had splashed his shirt. Then he looked longingly at the puddle.

Mal knew what he was thinking, remembered thinking it himself when he was small. Finding a pool of water after the rains, tempting him, calling to him to give in and have fun. And the number of times he had, jumping in and having a whale of a time. It made the telling off he always got from his Ma all the more worth it. “I'm in something of a state,” he said softly, his mouth twitching.

“’Es,” Ethan agreed, biting his lip.

“And, you know … I don’t think I should be the only one!” Suddenly Mal reached out and grabbed his son, pulling him down into the mud with him, Ethan squealing and laughing as they rolled in the wet dirt. Mal found himself growling, trying to tickle the little boy even as he was being plastered with all the muck from the puddle, feeling it getting inside his shirt and down his pants even as the joy in his heart expanded.

“What is going on here?”

Mal looked up guiltily, mud squishing between his fingers as he let Ethan sit up. “Oh. ‘Nara. Morning.”

She stood above them on top of the slight slope, her hands on her hips. “What on earth are you doing?”


“It doesn’t look like nothing.”

He didn’t answer for a moment, just looked down at himself, his lips pursed. “Then we’re … playing.”

She tapped her foot. “How old are you, Mal?”

He tried to gather the remnants of his tattered dignity but gave up. “You look nice,” he finally said lamely, nodding towards the dress of regal blue and pastel green she was wearing.

“Whereas you, on the other hand, look as if you’ve just indulged in a really expensive beauty treatment.” She glared at him. “And is that Ethan?”

“Hello, Auntie ‘Nara,” the little boy said, waving his fingers at her, then noticed the crud under his nails.

“Mal, if Freya sees him like that she’s going to have a fit.”

“Really?” Mal looked at his son. “You think so?”

“Positive. You’d better get him cleaned up before breakfast. Which, by the way, is ready.”

Mal examined Ethan more closely, making a show of wiping some of the mud off. “You think your Ma’s gonna be annoyed you got a little mud on you?”

The little boy shrugged. “Might.”

“A little?” Inara stood open-mouthed. “Mal, you’re covered!”

“Are we?”

Ethan knew, could see it in his father’s blue eyes even before he winked slowly, and he began to say, “Daddy, don’t do –“

But it was too late. The handful of mud flew from Mal’s fingers and landed smack in the middle of Inara’s chest, slipping gloopily down her cleavage.

She gasped, her eyes wide and she took a small step back. Unfortunately she didn’t look where she was going, and her foot slid out from under her, propelling her down the small slope on her buttocks, straight into the mudpool. She sat immobile, dazed, her mouth gulping like a fish.

“Oops,” Ethan said quietly.

Even Mal looked somewhat shaken at what he’d done. “Um, ‘Nara …” He reached out for her, but realised his hands were encrusted with earth. She glared at him, and he waited for her rage-filled outburst to engulf him. What he got, however, was a handful of mud straight into his face. “What the …” He spat again, wiping it out of his eyes.

“Oh, all right for you to do it to me, but you don’t like it?” she taunted, then shrieked in a very unladylike manner as he grabbed at her. They rolled in the mud, feeling it getting everywhere, eyes, nose, mouth … everywhere.

“Daddy …” Ethan wasn't sure, but as he heard Inara laughing, he grinned and threw himself on top of them, rubbing the mud indiscriminately into hair, clothes, skin.

Suddenly Mal stopped, as if the earth had dried on him to a hard crust in an instant, immobilising him into a statue.

“Mal?” Inara asked, still chuckling. Then she looked up. “Ah.”

He’d heard it, in his mind, that voice he knew so well. What do you think you’re doing? His gaze travelled up past the boots and pants, the tan shirt, the very heavily crossed arms, to his wife’s face. “Hey, Frey,” he said, trying a smile.

“Daddy’s playing,” Ethan said, sitting back out of breath.

“So I can see.”

“Well, you weren't here,” Mal put in quickly. “And Inara fell in, and we … she … I …”

“Really.” Freya just stared at them all.

“Nothing happened,” Inara said, standing up as quickly as she could in a dress that was waterlogged and mud stained.


“Honestly, we were just … it was just play.” She patted at her hair, pushing it back from her face.


“Honestly.” Inara looked at her friend, seeing an inscrutability that even Zoe would be envious of. “I … think I’d better go and get changed,” she added quickly, glancing at Mal.

“Yes. I think you’d better.” Freya’s voice betrayed nothing either.

Inara hurried quickly away, determined to ignore the oozing of certain portions of her anatomy as she did so.

Mal lifted Ethan to his feet, out of the mud, then attempted to stand himself, feeling things squelch everywhere. “Frey, nothing happened.”

“I know that.”

Mal paused. “You do?”

“I trust you.”

“Then why the look?”

“Have you seen the state you’re in?” She shook her head. “But that’s not the point. I'm more upset you didn’t wait for me.” There was just a trace of hurt in her words.

“You wanted to get muddy?” He was surprised.

“Fun, Mal. You were having fun and I wasn’t part of it.”

Mal managed to get up, climbing from the puddle and dripping on the dry earth. “Frey, if you want to get disgusting, you only had to say.”

“You don’t …” She shook her head again and turned away. “It doesn’t matter.”

He crossed the small distance between them and took her hand. “Course it does. I don’t want you to ever feel left out, xin gan.” He pulled her around. “And if we’d been playing with anyone else, I don’t think it would’ve mattered so much, would it?”

She looked into his blue eyes. “Probably not.” It was an agreement, but grudgingly given.

“Frey, you’re …” He couldn’t think of the right word to use, so instead said, “It was Inara, Frey. Inara. Rolling round in the mud. Getting … messy.” He couldn’t help it. He began to smile. “Inara. Who never has a hair out of place. Covered in crud.”

Ethan giggled.

Freya tried to stay even a little bit mad, but the sight of her husband and son, head to toe in mud, and the memory of Inara squelching as she walked away … She felt her lips twitch.

Mal saw, and felt emboldened to step forwards, nearly but not quite touching her. “See,” he said softly, “ain't no-one in this ‘verse I’d rather be dirty with than you.”

She had to laugh, and went to put her hand on his chest but stopped. “You’re still filthy.”

“I hope you’re referring to my mind too,” he said, waggling his eyebrows.

“Oh, yes.”

“Daddy.” Ethan tugged on his hand. “Flowers.”

“Oh. Yeah.” He reached up to the neck of his shirt, but realised the blooms Ethan had picked were gone. He glanced down into the muddy pool. “I … I think they’re down there somewhere.”

“Flowers?” Freya asked.

“I picked them for you,” Ethan said. “But Daddy lost them.”

“Sorry,” Mal put in.

“I’ll get some more.” Ethan ran off towards the house and the wild flowers under the orchard trees.

Freya watched him go, a fond smile on her face, then turned back to Mal. “Don’t do it again,” she said.

“Try not to.”

“And you’re going to be the one to get him clean.”

“I figured we’d better be doing that back on Serenity. Can’t see Inara being too …” He stopped. “Course, she had to walk through the house looking like that.” He looked pensive.

“Serenity,” Freya said firmly.

“Aye aye,” he said, saluting her.

She stuck out her tongue and turned to follow her son, only to feel a hand slapped onto her rump. She looked round, trying to see what he’d done. “Did you just …”

Mal looked innocent, doing an impression of his son that was hard to beat. “Nope. Not me. Must’ve been some other person put their muddy hand on your backside.” He tipped his head to one side. “Looks kinda nice, though.”

She glared at him.


Kaylee looked up from her scrambled eggs. “Hey, Cap, Freya. You’re almost too late for breakfast.”

Mal lifted his son into the chair. “Just had to wash up, mei-mei.”

“It’s good, too. Got eggs, real ham, and I think there’s some of them biscuit things left, if Jayne ain't eaten ‘em all.”

“I didn’t,” the big man put in. “Had but the two.”

“You feeling all right?” Hank asked. “Only two? Perhaps Simon ought to check you out for something. Simon, you need to check Jayne out.”

“He had enough bacon to wipe out half the pigs on the planet,” Simon said, wiping Hope’s fingers. “I don’t think he’s likely to be dying any time soon.”

Freya lifted one of the covers on the sideboard. “Ooh, yes. I do like scrambled eggs.” She spooned some onto a plate and added a biscuit before handing it to Mal who put it in front of their son.

“Yum,” Ethan said, tucking in.

Kaylee was about to say the orange juice was fresh too, when she noticed a handprint on the back of Freya’s pants. It appeared to be … dried mud. She leaned over towards Zoe. “What do you suppose –“

The dark woman shook her head. “I wouldn’t even bother asking, Kaylee,” she murmured. “Not if you want a sensible answer.”

to be continued


Tuesday, March 4, 2008 11:22 AM


Nobody does fluff quite like you! Hope this made you smile too. Thanks for the happy morning scene.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008 1:01 PM


Oh to be a clump of mud that gets thrown on Inara! Or better yet, Kaylee. Or best of all RIVER! I just looooove River! ROFL

This was a great chapter, fluffy, with a tinge of tension that sort of washed away. And left a muddy hand print to boot.

I just have this awful feeling that things will go in the crapper, though. You're setting us up, aren't you? I know you are. Admit it.

Great chapter, Jane. I loved it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008 3:38 PM


Brilliant! I particularly loved the image you drew in my head of a mini-Mal with Ethan standing with his thumbs tucked in his suspenders and head tilted to one side as he looked at his father. Hmm, adorable. And I loved Simon's comment about Jayne eating enough bacon to wipe out all the pigs on the planet! Nope, don't think he'll be dying soon either. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, March 5, 2008 4:37 PM


Thanks, Jane. Now my inner child wants to go play in the mud!... Not that I blame her, though. It's just that it's still a bit too cool to do that. ;)

Thursday, March 6, 2008 2:22 AM


Coming late to the party, but glad I got here! What fun!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008 3:41 AM


I laughed out loud! Mal and Ethan and then Inara! I mean Inara in the mud!! It was amazing. I wish Freya hadn't gotten jealous though... you would think by now she would just relax. Oh well. Wonderful story!


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!]