Old Habits - Part VI
Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. In which the crew learns about Becca, and Mal makes a mess of things. NEW CHAPTER


Freya was standing in the middle of their bunk, wearing just her trousers. She was staring at something in her hands, her back to the hatch.

Mal lowered himself gingerly down the ladder, watching her all the time, noting the grey aspect of her tattoo. Sometimes he cursed that damn flame, telling him he’d hurt her again, as if he didn’t know. And now he could see her eyes were fixed on her coin, the one she used for meditation. “Frey?”

She seemed to rouse herself, pushing the medallion into her pocket before picking up her bra from the bed. “Mal.”

“You okay?” He glimpsed the side of her breast, but it was gone in a moment as she pulled the bra into place.

“Shiny.” She didn’t turn, just grabbed her shirt, shrugging into the sleeves.

“Then look at me.”

“Not sure I want to.”

He let go of the ladder and crossed the small distance towards her. “It was a long time ago, Frey.”

“Not that long. She’s not decrepit.”

“Long enough.” He reached out for her, but the tension in her back made him drop his hand.

“Before or after?”


“Me. Sleeping with me that first time. Before or after?”

He licked suddenly dry lips. “Uh …”

Her shoulders collapsed. “I see. After.”

“But it ain't like you think.”

She span on her heel, her eyes blazing. “Then tell me what it is like, Mal. Tell me how you didn’t ask that woman to marry you. Tell me, Mal.”

“I can’t.”

All the fire in her seemed to die at once, and she sat down hard on the bed. “I was wrong,” she whispered.

“’Scuse me?”

“I was wrong. I don’t want to talk to you.”

Pain spiked through him. “I love you, Frey. No-one else.”

She shook her head. “Just go away.”

Normally he wouldn’t let her do this, not let her sit and wallow in whatever this was. Most times he could bring her round, show her how stupid it was to fight. But this time a surge of anger ran through him, and this time he let it out. “Fine. I’ll go. Not like I wanna have to be explainin’ myself to you again anyways. It was a long time ago. Before us. The real us. But I ain't gonna waste my breath.” He climbed the ladder and stomped down the corridor to the galley, ignoring the voice in his gut telling him to stop being an idiot, to go back and comfort his wife.

River was sitting at the table, her hands clasped lightly in front of her.

“We on course?” he asked, trying to control his breathing.

“Persephone. Three days.”


“No, it isn’t.”

He glared at her. “You stay outta my brain, albatross. What’s between me and Frey is … between us. You and the rest of the crew are to stay out, okay?”

She didn’t flinch, just stared at him with her dark eyes. “Why are you so angry?”

“Not angry.”

“So angry you left her in pain.”

“Leave it, River.” Mal leaned on the counter, facing away from her, his fingers digging into the metal and all the muscles in his back solid.


“I said leave it!” He span on his heel, ready to vent some of the fury he felt inside. “It ain’t any of your affair!”

“No. You know you were in the wrong. Twice in a few days.”

His eyes widened. “You talking about Magpie? But that’s just crazy. It was a nothing, made worse ‘cause Kaylee built it up.”

“But you didn’t tell her. She would have laughed, made fun of you, but it wouldn’t have been there waiting. And she’d have been able to accept … her … better.”

He opened his mouth, about to deny she was anywhere near right, but he couldn’t. Besides, maybe the young psychic in front of him had some insights into the woman she considered to be more a mother than blood to her. He slumped a little. “Lao tyen-yeh,” he murmured, almost to himself. “I don’t know what’s gotten into me, River. I went down there to talk to her, but I just –”

Whatever he was going to say was interrupted by Kaylee and Simon stepping down into the kitchen from the other end.

“Everything okay?” the young doctor asked, looking from his sister to his captain, wondering at the intensity of their faces.

”Shiny,” River said, finding a smile for him. “Nothing to worry about.”

“If you say so.” He didn’t sound convinced.

“So why’d you want us all here?” Kaylee asked, sitting down. “Only I got Bethie watching Hope, and you’ve no idea what a coupla girls their age can get up to if I don’t keep an eye on ‘em.” She grinned, trying to lighten things a little.

“What kind of things?” River asked.

“Terrible things,” Kaylee affirmed. “I have nightmares.”

“You mean like the time I got into Simon’s room and exchanged his spot cream for hair dye?”

Her brother’s eyebrows threatened to disappear into his scalp. “I knew it was you!” he said, finger pointing somewhat shakily at her. “You swore it was Bradley Camberson at my birthday party. It took weeks for the colour to wear off fully!”

She smiled sweetly, just as Jayne strode into the galley, slapping the doctor on the back.

“You had spots?” he asked, grinning as he dropped into his chair next to River.

Simon blushed. “Childhood acne. Nothing much.”

“Aw, that’s okay, honey,” Kaylee said, taking his hand and squeezing it. “We all had ‘em.” She looked up at Mal. “Ain't that right, Cap’n?”

Mal nodded slowly, immensely glad they’d given him time to pull himself together. “I imagine we did,” he admitted. “Even me. Thought I’d have to hide all through that summer.”

“You looked like –“ River began to Simon, but stopped at the glare he gave her. “I thought you’d notice before you put it all over your face,” she explained gently.

“I was going straight to bed, River. Then when I woke up I thought I’d contracted the Black Death or something!”

“Black Death isn’t spots. It’s lumps in the groin and armpit that ooze –“


She smiled at him. “Boob.”


Jayne growled a chuckle, but stopped suddenly, staring at the doorway.

“What’s with all the name calling?” Becca said, preceding Zoe and Hank down the steps.

“We got us a passenger?” Kaylee asked, wondering why the blonde woman was wearing one of Zoe’s old shirts, and what looked like an even older pair of Hank’s cargo pants. Maybe an inch or two shorter than Freya, she was slim and very fit looking, well able to take care of herself. Delicately boned, she had green eyes, but her most notable feature was the long, pale gold hair that was now caught up in a tie at the back of her neck yet still reaching nearly to her waist.

“Not as such.” Mal pointed to a chair. “Sit,” he said Becca.

“Sure.” She lowered herself down, her entire body language relaxed as she looked at the new faces. “Hi.” There was a mutter of hellos, then she grinned up at Mal. “Are you going to introduce me, or not?”

Mal crossed his arms. “This is Rebecca Morgan. Known to most as Becca.” He went around the table. “That’s Simon and Kaylee. They’re wed. So’re Jayne and River. And that’s Hank, Zoe’s husband.”

Becca couldn’t help a bark of laughter. “You, Zoe? An old married lady?”

“Not so much with the old,” Hank said, defending his wife.

“No. Of course not.” She nodded. “Nice to meet you all.”

“Nice to meet you too,” Kaylee said, but she was hesitant. “Cap, sorry, but … who is she?”

Mal took a breath, not liking what he was about to say one little bit. “Becca and me … we used to be engaged.”

Simon’s mouth dropped open, but it was Kaylee who said, “Engaged?”

“Long time ago, mei-mei,” Mal assured her. “Right now we’re just giving her a lift.”

“But engaged? As in, to be married?”

“As in.”

“But when was this? Must’ve been ‘fore I joined the crew, otherwise –“

“It was before I had Serenity. Like I said, a long time ago. And I don’t doubt Becca will be more’n glad to fill you in on most of the details.” Suddenly he felt a lassitude spread through him, and he knew he’d had enough. “Zoe, get a berth set up for her in the passenger quarters. Kaylee, anything you got she might need, I’d be beholden if you’d share.”

“No problem, Cap.” A frown settled on her forehead. “Cap, what about Frey?”

“You just see we get to Persephone in one piece,” Mal said firmly. “I'm gonna check the cargo.” He strode out of the door, not even glancing at Becca.

“Well, that went well.” The blonde woman smiled brightly at the others.

Kaylee, ever ready to make friends, returned it somewhat tentatively. “So, you and the Cap …”

“Me and the Cap.” Becca laughed. “Somehow that just doesn’t sound right. Captain. It doesn’t seem to fit him.”

“Then I reckon you don’t know the man well as you think you do,” Jayne rumbled. “Was always meant to be one, far as I can see.” He felt River’s hand creep into his, squeezing slightly

“Not when I knew him.” Becca grinned again, and the others noticed the small lines around her mouth and eyes. She was older than she looked.

“And when was that?” Simon asked.

“After the war.” She leaned forward. “Hasn’t he talked about that time?”

“No,” Zoe put in, her face unreadable. “Nothing to tell.”

Kaylee and Jayne glanced at each other. They knew a little of Zoe’s life at that time, but Mal never spoke of it, of what happened to him between leaving the camp on Santo and buying Serenity. That year was a blank, as far as they were concerned.

“Well, there’s something,” Becca said. “There were the disbursement sites, for a start. That’s where we met. In the one for the people from Shadow.”

“Shadow?” Now it was Hank’s turn to be surprised. “You were from Mal’s home planet?”

“I was.”

“But you … you don’t sound like it.”

“Different area. We never knew each other, and besides, my parents sent me to school off-world. I came back sounding like I do, to a place about to go to war.” She shrugged. “I guess that’s the thing about life. It keeps throwing you a curveball.”

“Did your family … did they make it?” Kaylee asked quietly.

“No.” Becca was matter-of-fact about it. “They died.”

“I'm sorry.”

“Long time ago.”

“I'm still …” She looked down at her hands, feeling sadness for the woman opposite.

“Anyway, there we were, all together, and we got talking. Became friends. Isn’t that right, Zoe?” Becca looked up at the dark woman.

“We got acquainted,” Zoe corrected.

“But you weren’t from Shadow,” Hank pointed out to his wife. “How come you were there?”

She shrugged. “Freighter-born. They couldn’t exactly send me back there, so they let me stay with the Captain.”

“And that’s where we hooked up. It was almost like a whirlwind, wasn't it, Zoe?” Becca leaned back, a smile on her face as she remembered the past. “It only took a few weeks and he was begging me to marry him.”

“I don’t recall the begging.”

“I do. And of course I said yes.”

“But ya didn’t.” Jayne’s eyes narrowed. “Who broke it off?”

Becca sighed. “Mutual consent. We decided we weren't right for each other.”

Hank saw Zoe glance sharply at the other woman, but she didn’t respond.

“What about Freya?” Kaylee asked. “Where was she while all this was going on?”

“Look, what is this about her?” Becca was exasperated. “You keep bringing her up. How come?”

Kaylee glanced at Simon, then said, “Well, she’s Mal’s wife.”

“She’s …” There was shock, now. “His wife?”

“Yeah. Got kids and everything.”

“He didn’t say.” Becca shook her head. “He didn’t say.”

“Yeah, well, private life’s just that,” Jayne put in, standing up. “Private.” He looked down at River. “You coming?”

“In a minute.”

“’Kay. Don’t be long.”

“I won’t.”

Jayne gave Becca one last hard look, and walked out of the galley.

“Did I say something to upset him?” the blonde asked.

“Freya’s his friend,” River explained.

“And I’m not looking to come between a man and his wife.” Becca leaned her elbows on the old wood. “And I swear I didn’t know. We were just in the same place at the same time, and … coincidences do happen, you know.”

River didn’t answer, just looked at her.

Zoe stirred. “Kaylee, if you’ll get those bits I’ll show Becca to a room.”

Kaylee jumped up. “Sure. Best she gets some rest ‘fore she meets the kids, otherwise the trauma might be too much.” She smiled. “Come on, Simon. You can help.”

“What with?”

“Come on.” She dragged him from his seat, leading him towards the rear stairs.

“Becca.” Zoe nodded towards the door.

“You still don’t like me, do you?” Becca stood up, straightening the borrowed shirt.

“You’re trouble. Always have been. And no. I don’t like you.”

“It’s not like I did anything to you.”

Zoe didn’t answer, just waited until the other woman sighed and walked in front of her.

Hank looked at River. “What’s going on?” he asked. “Can you see?”

“There’s no such things as coincidences,” the young psychic said. “But I‘m too foggy.” Her brow furrowed. “Have to concentrate.”

“You want me to leave?”

“No.” She looked up. “But I will.” She slid out of her chair and was gone before Hank could say another word.


Down in the cargo bay, Mal hadn’t even looked at the boxes still waiting to be delivered to Kendrick. Instead he sat on a crate, staring at his boots.

“You come to finish our argument?” he asked, knowing she was behind him.

River drifted to his side, sitting down next to him. “No. Just wondering if you’ve come to your senses yet.”

“I think maybe I have.” He looked at her profile. “She still in our bunk?”


He waited, but she didn’t say anything else. Eventually he sighed and asked, “Would you happen to know where Freya is, albatross?”

The young woman drew her legs up to her chest, balancing the heels of her bare feet on the crate. “Yes.”

“You likely to be telling me any time soon?”


He sighed again. “She’s hurting, ain't she?”


“And it’s my fault.”

She turned to look at him, her dark eyes boring into his soul. “You should have told her.”

“About what? That I’d seriously thought of marrying Becca? Of being with her for the rest of my life? Of having a family with her?”


“What good would that have done?” He shook his head. “I never, in this whole gorram ‘verse, considered I’d be seeing her again, let alone it happen like this.”

“Lack of forethought doesn’t excuse the pain.”

“I know, xiao nu.” He sighed. “I just wish …”


“Yeah.” He stared at his hand. “I’d cut this off, you know, rather than see her hurting. If she told me, if it’d make it better for her, I’d go up to the kitchen right now and take it off at the wrist.”

“She knows.”

“But she don’t believe it.”

“Not right now.”

He turned in the seat so he could look into her face. “What do I do, River? How do I tell her I'm sorry?”

“She thought it was only Inara she had to contend with. Then she met Maddy. Now Becca. She’s afraid.”

“That there’s more?”

She nodded slowly. “Others you’ve kept secret from her. Others you want more.”

“There’ll never be.”

“She’s not exactly thinking sanely at the moment.”

Mal understood that. “How do you cope, little one? Knowing what you do of Jayne’s past?”

She shrugged. “It’s past. And I know all about Charity.”


“No-one important. Not now. But he didn’t hide her from me.”

“That what I've done? Hidden stuff?”

“Of course. We all do. But bringing such things into the light can be painful. We have to be sure they will stay hidden, or find a way to explain.”

“I tried.”

“Not hard enough.” She gazed into the corner by Jayne’s weights. “Do you trust her? This Becca?”

“No,” Mal admitted.

“Coincidences,” River breathed.

“Don’t believe in ‘em, albatross.”

“Good.” She paused a moment, then said, “She’s on the bridge.”

He didn’t need to ask who. “Can I make this better?”


“I’ve gotta tell her everything, don’t I?”

“Tell her you love her.”

“I do. God, River, I love her so much this is killin’ me.”

“Tell her that too.”

He stood up, taking a deep breath. “She ever gonna really forgive me?”

She raised her head, looking into his soul. “She loves you. And eventually.”

“Well, better make that eventually start now.” He strode purposefully up the stairs.

to be continued


Wednesday, June 4, 2008 4:10 AM


Wow!Just wow!

I am liking the crew's untrust of Becca. All of them seem to know she's no good. And Mal messing up with Frey. I could so see him thinking that way.

Great Chapter....more please!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008 4:36 AM


Hurry up and start fixing matters with your wife, Captain Tightpants! Ouch.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008 5:46 AM


OK, I'm going to go against the tide here and say that I'm not wildly fond of full disclosure of past lovers. I think Freya's jealous bone is too well-developed. At some point, she has to realize that Mal had a life before the one he CHOSE to live with her. But still, great work here!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008 6:46 AM


Same here slumming, but Mal is still making matters worse by not at least talking to Freya about why he CHOSE Freya.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008 12:57 PM


Sounds like Becca actually engineered meeting up with Mal again. I find it really interesting that Zoe still doesn't like her and definitely doesn't trust her so what is Becca up to? Maybe she is planning to punish Mal for *not* marrying her. I hope Frey realises that Mal loves her to pieces and that the two can patch things up. I also agree with slumming that Frey does tend to get jealous far too easily over things well in the past. Mal chose her, married HER, had children with HER. That has to count for something. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 2:18 PM


I liked the Simon River repartee, made me giggle. But then this whole Becca thing re-reared it's head. Can't wait for the next chapter, going to read it now!

Friday, July 11, 2008 4:08 AM


I have to agree with slumming. Mal is with Freya. They are married. They have a family together. Stuff that is in the past, is just that in the past. I understand the way she is feeling, but she needs to give the jealousy a break. wonderful story line... I am finally getting caught up. Thanks for a wonderful read!


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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!]