Games - Part I
Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. The crew goes back to their interrupted visit with Kaylee's family. Sort of unfluffy fluff (if there is such a thing). Just a few parts. NEW STORY


Serenity touched down on Phoros just as the clock in the old church chimed two am.

“Okay, people,” Mal said into the ship-wide com. “Since we can’t go knocking on good folks’ doors at this time of night, you’d all better try and get some sleep. And that means little girls too.” He smiled and turned the com off.

Hank yawned ostentatiously. “So I can get to my bed?”

“You a little girl?”

“Sometimes I feel like it.” He scratched his head, making his untidy brown hair stand up even more. “All feminine and flouncy.”

“I think you’d better keep that feeling to yourself.”

“What, you don’t want to come and tuck me in?” Hank got up from his pilot’s chair, a mischievous gleam in his eye. “Tell me a bedtime story and kiss me goodnight?”

“Not if my life depended on it.”

“It might do, one day.”

“Well, one day ain't now. Go on, go to bed. And tell Zoe she needs to tell you a story.”

Hank grinned. “And I know just the one. All heaving bosoms and torn bodices –“


The pilot bowed low. “Your wish is my command,” he said, standing up straight and scurrying off the bridge before Mal could hit him.

Freya moved to one side to let him pass, then leaned on the doorway. “So which little girls did you mean?” she asked.

He turned and smiled at her. “Maybe you.”

“And there I was thinking you meant Bethie.”

“That little girl saw her grandma only a short while ago,” Mal pointed out, holding out his arm. “Yet she’s all anxious again.”

Freya crossed the small space and leaned against him. “That doesn’t matter. She didn’t get the full visit you promised.”

“And she won’t this time. We’re here so Kaylee can be with her Ma, but it ain't gonna be above a day or two. We got places to go, people to see.”

“Children to leave …” Her voice turned wistful.

“You regretting agreeing?” he asked, looking down into her face.

“No. No, you’re right. Better we know they’re safe than worry about what might happen to them.”

“I conjure that won’t stop you.”

“Nor you.”

He squeezed her to him. “We’re parents, Frey. I reckon that kinda goes with the territory.” He chuckled. “You know, I never realised what a trial I must’ve been to my Ma. Being a boy ‘n’all.”

“You think boys are worst?”

“I know it. When I think back on the things I used to get up to …” He shook his head wryly. “Surprised my Ma didn’t have a full head o’ grey hair ‘stead of just one or two.”

“Sounds interesting. What kind of things?”

“Well, you’ve heard about some of ‘em.”

“Only some? I mean, there’s was the duck-hunting incident, the dress incident, the first time down by the creek incident … what else did you get up to?”

“I knew I should never’ve told you.”

She laughed. “Mal, you just wait until Ethan’s a bit older. He’s going to get into such trouble, it’ll put your exploits to shame.”

“I know. I'm going grey myself just thinking about it.”

“Only one or two.”

His eyes narrowed. “You saying I’m getting old and decrepit?“

“You’re not decrepit. Much. And as for getting old … we all do.”

“Nope,” he said firmly. “I ain't getting old. And neither are you.” He pulled her closer, then groaned softly.

“I think you’re making promises your body can’t keep.” Freya smiled at him, placing her hand lightly on his chest. “Decrepit or not.”

“I’m getting better,” he insisted, leaning down to touch his lips to hers.

“And you heard Simon. You try and will yourself back to health and you’ll be back in the infirmary. Let alone being in my bad books.”

“Wouldn’t want that.”

“Come on,” she said, tugging gently. “Time for bed. For all us little girls.”


The sun had only just risen, though, when everyone congregated in the cargo bay. Bethie was vibrating near the door again, this time in a little pair of pants and a pink t-shirt, since she’d managed to get dirt all over her dress last time. Hope stood next to her, her blond curls shining in the light, while Fiddler was at their feet, yawning widely.

“I know how he feels,” Hank said, walking slowly down the stairs, making a supreme effort to keep his own jaws together.

“You didn’t have to get up at all,” Mal pointed out, heading for the door controls. “Not like it was an order, or something.”

“And miss the famous Frye breakfast? Not that tired.” Hank shook his head, then stretched with an audible popping of joints in his back.

“Hank, I think you’d better let me take a look at that soon,” Simon said, wincing professionally at the sound.

“Nah, just tossing a bit last night.”

“I figure we all were,” Mal added.

“Bad dreams, sir?” Zoe asked, following her husband.

“One or two.” He clapped his hands together, banishing thoughts of waking up sweating, feeling the Quicksilver slip inside him. “Okay, we all here?”

“Kaylee isn’t,” the young doctor pointed out.

“How come?” Hank asked, scratching his chest. “I’d’a thought she’d’ve been first.”

“Momma’s afraid,” Bethie said, stopping her jiggling from foot to foot.

“What about, short stub?” Jayne stomped down to the cargo bay floor, River following silently with Caleb on her hip. “’Cause I can go shoot whatever it is for her if she wants.”

“You can’t even hold a gun yet.” Simon looked at the splints still on the big man’s hands. “Unless you want to be crippled for life.”

Jayne stared at his fingers, then looked back at River. “That the case?” he asked.

“Not now,” she said, passing him and letting her palm trail down his arm. “Healing well.”

“I didn’t say otherwise.” Simon sighed. “I just don’t want him undoing all my good work.”

“I won’t let him,” River promised. “And Bethie’s right. Kaylee is scared.”

“Of what?” He glanced towards their quarters. “The baby’s fine, all the Jutoprocaine is out of her system –“

“And she was kidnapped.” River lifted her head from tangling her fingers in her son’s. “So was her brother. On this very planet.”

“But she told me she was okay.”

“Didn’t want to worry you.”

“I think I’d better …” He took a step backwards, then turned on his heels and walked quickly out of the bay.

“She okay?” Mal asked River softly. “Only if she needs to talk –“

The young psychic smiled. “She will talk. When she’s ready.”


Back in the lower crew quarters, Simon slowed. He really hadn’t taken into account Kaylee’s state of mind, and he was now berating himself. She’d said she was shiny, and he believed her. It hadn’t occurred to him that she was telling him what he wanted to hear, and glossing over the rest.

Inside their room, he could see her going through a heap of baby clothes, muttering to herself.

“Come on,” he said gently. “Everyone’s waiting.”

She jumped, spinning to face him, a tiny stretchy one piece clutched to her chest. “What?”

Simon was wracked with guilt at the initial flash of fear on her face. Bethie had known, and River, and he hadn’t even noticed. “I'm sorry,” he breathed. “I didn’t understand.”

Her heartbeat began to slow to more normal levels. “Understand what?”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Tell you what?” She turned back, putting the clothing on the pile. “You know, most of this is going to be okay. We might have to buy a few new diapers, but mostly we’re –“


She didn’t look at him. “What?”

Okay. She wasn’t going to talk about it, and certainly not to him, not yet. He’d made the first move, so when she was ready … “It’s time to go.”

She found a smile from somewhere, much more like his Kaylee. “I’m guessing everyone’s waiting for Ma’s breakfast?”

“Hank certainly is.” He returned the smile with interest. “If we don’t go soon I think he’s going to pass out from hunger.”

“Then this can wait.”

He held out his hand, pleased beyond measure when she interlaced her fingers with his, letting him lead her out to the waiting crew.

“Finally,” Mal said, standing with his arms crossed. “I was beginning to think you weren't interested in seeing your folks.”

“Mal,” Freya said softly, treading on his foot.

“Sorry, Cap.” Kaylee grinned at him. “Just finishing a couple of things.”

If he didn’t know better, Mal realised, he’d think there was nothing wrong with his mei-mei either.

She needs her mother, Freya said in his mind.

Thought that’s what you were being.

Not when the real thing’s on hand.

Ethan sighed, crossing to stand next to Bethie. He’d given up trying to get his parents to use words.

“So, we ready now?” Mal asked, trying to hide the smile.

“Just waiting for you to open up, sir,” Zoe added.

“Yeah, come on, Mal,” Hank urged. “I need food!”

Mal fixed his pilot with an icy stare, only to get a grin in return, and pushed down on the button to open the bay doors.

“At last!” Bill Frye said, bounding forward. “I thought we were gonna have to knock.”

Joe, his younger brother, elbowed him. “You just be nice.”

“I was being nice!”

Peter Frye sighed heavily. “Ignore them,” he advised, then grinned at Kaylee. “You staying in there all day, sis, or are you coming out?”

Kaylee ran down the ramp and into their arms, relishing the feeling of being surrounded by blood kin. “Where’s Bobby?” she asked, her eyes closing.

“He drew the short straw,” Joe explained. “He’s helping Pa put the table up.” He shook his head. “You only gave us a few hours notice, you know.”

“That don’t matter,” Bill put in. “And you know Ma was worried. Coulda been a few minutes and she wouldn’t’a minded.”

“Cap wasn't going to let me call at all,” Kaylee said. “But I didn’t want us to just drop in unannounced.”

“Kaylee, it’s okay.” Peter prised her loose from his brothers. “You know it. This is your home, no matter you live elsewhere.” He looked up at the rest of Serenity’s crew. “Come on. I've got orders to make sure you all get to breakfast before it gets cold.”

Hank grinned from ear to ear. “Lead me to it!” he announced.


The breakfast was everything that was promised, and then some. It was as if Ellie Frye was trying to make up for the curtailed celebrations of before, and the table was almost groaning with the weight of food. Freya surreptitiously passed Kaylee a handful of notes to put in her Ma’s secret place, wanting to make sure the Fryes didn’t go short because of it.

This time, though, it was only the core of the Frye family and Serenity’s crew, and Simon was aware that Kaylee didn’t seem displeased by this. He knew he was intimidated by her large number of relatives, but this time she seemed more than content to sit between him and her mother, filing it away for future reference.

“Ellie, you keep cooking like that and I might decide to give up being a brigand and retire here,” Mal said, leaning back in his chair and loosening the top button of his pants.

“I can’t see that happening,” Ellie laughed. “You’ve got too much of the black in you, just like my Kaylee.”

“Besides,” Freya put in, “I don’t think I'm ready to settle down yet.”

“Who said you were invited?” he asked, his blue eyes twinkling.

“Oh, I see.” She sniffed dramatically. “One whiff of another woman’s cooking and you’re ready to run off with her.” Picking up a napkin, she wiped at her eyes. “I knew you never loved me really.”

All the other men were grinning at her theatrics, while the women just rolled their eyes.

“Nope,” Mal agreed. “I was just using you ‘til I could find someone who didn’t burn everything.”

“I'm not that bad. Mrs Boden taught me a lot.”

“Not enough.” He suddenly grinned, turning to Ellie. “So would you feed me, if I came and camped out on your doorstep?”

“I might consider it,” the older woman said, chuckling. “Handsome man like you …”

Eddie coughed loudly, and everyone laughed.

“So do I get Serenity, sir?” Zoe asked, wiping Ben’s hands where he’d been sucking the special strawberry syrup from his fingers.

Mal sighed. “Zoe, much as I love my ship, I kinda have to ask you … why? She’s getting on, she eats up money, bits keep falling off her …” He appeared to ponder matters. “You know, I think I’ll keep her.”

“Were you referring to the ship or your wife?”


“I might not want you any more,” Freya pointed out. “Denigrating my cooking like that …”

“Tell the truth and shame the devil,” Jayne put in.

“Hey, I’ll take you on,” Bobby Frye said. “Always wanted an older woman to introduce me to the mysteries of love.” River hit him on the arm, and he grabbed the affected portion. “Hey!”

“Thank you,” Freya said.

“You’re welcome,” River responded, jigging Caleb on her knee.

“No wonder Kaylee fits right in,” Bobby muttered before moving out of range.

to be continued


Wednesday, August 6, 2008 3:54 AM


Yay story!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 4:12 AM


Good to see you back.

And I'm sure Mal did give his Ma a whole head of gray hair.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 9:41 AM


Very cute. Boys are boys.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 10:54 AM


So happy for Kaylee that she gets to spend some time with her folks before ship and crew head off into another thrilling adventure! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 2:27 PM


Nice slice of life piece. Good to see you're back in the saddle again! :D

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 6:24 PM


You were missed! Why am I hungry for breakfast now?


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“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!]

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"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!]

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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!]

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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.

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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!]