Games - Part III
Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Just some more idyllic moments on Phoros, but Kaylee's still scared. NEW CHAPTER


Simon watched River sitting with Jayne, and wondered quite when he’d accepted this particular pairing. Was it when he’d asked Jayne to help his sister, when Jethro was killed? Or maybe after he himself shot the ex-mercenary in a fit of misunderstanding. Or perhaps it wasn't until she walked down the aisle, blooming as only she could, smiling so widely he was surprised she didn’t self-combust. He had the horrible feeling it was the day Jayne walked into the infirmary and told the doc, in no uncertain terms, that he was going to sleep with River, and that he wanted to be tested for any diseases. It had taken so much for the big man to screw his courage up, it had to be then.

He studied his sister. She had Caleb between her knees, a pad and pencil in her hands, while the big man posed for her, grumbling all the time, but letting her tell him where to sit, how to hold himself as he tried to maintain his bad guy image and not grin widely.

The doctor shook his head slightly. He couldn’t believe how perfect they were for each other, accepting all the faults and failings both of them had, and loving even more for it. Jayne continued to surprise him, but he knew he could trust the big man with his sister, that they were destined to be together as long as they lived, and that was probably a lot longer now that they were together.

The worst thing was that Jayne was a natural father, something Simon always felt like he had to work at. Although how a man who’d spent the majority of his life with a gun in his hand could be so caring, so gentle … Simon shook his head. Yet his ability with first Bethie, then Ethan, and now Caleb made Simon feel … cheated somehow.

He sighed, then realised River was looking at him, her dark eyes gazing into his soul.

You are a natural father, he heard in his mind, and his jaw dropped a little. She hardly every talked to him like this.

Am I? he thought as clearly as he could. I wonder.

Bethie loves you, as does Hope. And so will the new baby.

Simon’s eyes narrowed as there was an impression of blue enveloping a small child. Are you saying I'm going to have a –

Didn’t say a word. She laughed and turned back to her drawing. And close your mouth unless you’re intending to catch flies.

His teeth snapped shut with an audible click, and he thought, quite clearly, Brat.

“Daddy?” Bethie stood next to him, more paint on her hands than she could ever have got on the paper she also held. “For you.”

“Me?” He smiled at her, settling her onto his knee and taking the sheet. She had certainly created a piece of artwork, where the sky was a rather startling orange and the grass – if it was grass – was purple. She had made a stab at the people, but they were sticks rather than anything fully fleshed. “That’s …really good.”

She grinned. “Auntie River said if you liked it she’d frame it so you can hang it up.”

“Did she. Well, I'm sure she’s right.” He put his head onto one side. “Bethie, you do know the sky isn’t that colour.”

“I know.”

“And grass is … well … green.”


“And you know which colour that is.”

She looked down at her t-shirt, liberally splashed with paint, and pointed. “That one.”

He nodded, slightly relieved. “That’s right. So why don’t you paint what you see?”

Her little nose wrinkled up. “That’s boring. The sky is blue, the sun is yellow, the grass is green …” She quoted the list in a singsong voice, then sighed. “I think they should be more fun.”

He laughed, and hugged her to him. “Bethie, my darling Bethie, I think you’re going to change the ‘verse. Or be a connoisseur of the abstract.”

She snuggled closer, enjoying being with her Daddy. “Can I make the sky orange?” she asked.

“I don’t doubt it.” He laughed, then peered over her. “And how are the other pictures going?”

River held up her pad at arms length, looking at it somewhat critically. “Jayne wouldn’t sit still.”

“I did!” the big man complained. “What I wouldn’t do was strip off so you could draw me naked.”

“Of which we’re inordinately pleased,” Simon said.

“My Jayne has a wonderful body,” River insisted. “He just doesn’t show it off enough.”

“I think he shows it off quite enough.” Simon tried the big brother voice on her, but all she did was stick her tongue out at him.

“Anyway, I will complete my drawing of him later.” She closed the pad firmly. “Much later.”

Simon ruthlessly pushed down the blush that was trying to flood his cheeks. “I really didn’t need to know that, mei-mei.”

She raised her eyebrows at him as if she didn’t know what he meant.

Ben listened to the conversation, then looked down at his own efforts. He wished he’d made the sky orange, like Bethie, but he’d just used blue. With big birds flying in it. Perhaps his daddy would still like it, even if the paint was running a bit.

Ethan, meanwhile, had rolled over onto his back all the better to look at the picture he’d created, held above him in both small hands. He had one eye closed, studying it intently.

“What’ve you drawn, big feller?” Jayne asked, moving round so he could sit next to River.

“Sky,” the little boy said succinctly.

“Just a page o’blue?”

“Black,” Ethan corrected. He held it so everyone could see. “With stars.”

It was just that, a field of black with little white dots spread across it.

“You are so your daddy’s son,” Jayne guffawed. “Always wanna be off out someplace.”

“Eurydice is not in the right place,” River pointed out. “She needs to be a degree less declination.”

Ethan nodded, somewhat sadly. “Not right.”

Jayne stopped laughing and stared at his wife. “You mean they ain't random?”

“Of course not. Ethan spends hours on the bridge with Mal, or Freya, or Hank, or even you. He paints what he remembers.”

“You know, if he weren’t the spit of Mal, I’d wonder if he wasn’t the love child of –“

“Jayne.” Simon spoke warningly, seeing little ears ready to take in anything untoward.


Bao bei,” River put in, a hand on Jayne’s arm. “Don’t wind my brother up. Or I won’t finish my picture at all.”

He glanced at her, something else going on between them other than normal conversation, and the big man subsided. “Fine. I was just saying.”


Ethan put his picture down and leaned on his hand. “Use words,” he said pointedly.

“Quite right,” Simon said.

“Who’s not talking?” Mal asked, strolling up with his arm around Freya’s waist.

“Uncle Jayne and Auntie River,” his first born explained, getting up and taking his painting to his father. “Daddy, would you like this?”

Mal took it carefully, holding it by the edges so it didn’t smudge. “You know, Ethan, I think I would. Look good up on the wall above the bed. Make me think I was back home, looking at the stars out of the window.”

Ethan grinned widely, rubbing black stained hands down his pants.

Freya lowered herself next to Jesse, who was still industriously adding layer upon layer of paint to her own piece of paper. “What are you painting, honey?”

“Mama,” the little girl said.

“That’s nice.” Freya leaned forward, trying to make head or tail of the increasingly grey blob.

“I don’t think our daughter’s gonna be in any art gallery any time soon,” Mal said, sitting down close enough to be able to lean against her.

“I'm sure it will be lovely, and it can join Ethan’s on the wall.”

“Daddy?” Hope stood next to Simon, holding out her own work, the sunlight catching her short blonde curls. “Is this right?”

Simon took the proffered page, and his jaw dropped again. “Did you do this? All by yourself?”

She nodded so hard her head might have come adrift. “Yes. Is it okay?”

“I … it’s …” He swallowed. “I think it’s wonderful.”

“Simon, you okay?” Mal asked, seeing his doctor going pale.

“I … I think so.” The young man pulled himself together. “It’s just this is so …” He held up the picture.

Everyone looked, and only River didn’t seem surprised.

“Hope, that’s beautiful,” Freya said softly.

She had drawn the house, using delicate lines and shading, some of them a little skewed, but that was to be expected from someone of her tender years. The effect, however, was of the Frye home standing out from the page, with a little smoke curling from the main chimney.

“Hope is talented.” River sighed happily. “I will teach her.”

Simon looked gratefully at his sister. “Will you?”

“Of course.”

Bethie grumbled something under her breath.

“What was that?” her father asked.

“Nothing.” She stared down at her shoes, her feet scuffing up little puffs of dust.

“Girl’s a mite jealous,” Mal explained quietly. “I think that’s the problem.”

“Are you?” Simon pulled his eldest daughter towards him, looking up into her face. “Because Hope can draw?”

Bethie’s lips were tightly closed, but River answered for her. “Jealous. Bethie wants to be able to do that.”

“You think I love her more than you now? Because of this?” Simon sighed, and shook his head. Taking hold of her carefully around the waist, he made her sit down on his thigh. “Bethie, you’re my daughter. And I am so proud of you, of all the things you can do. I mean, Hope can’t hear Serenity, can she? Tell when she needs fixing? And she can’t peek, even though that’s not a good idea. Unless Uncle Mal tells you to.” He was rewarded by a brief snort of laughter, instantly suppressed. “Sweetheart, everyone has different talents. You’re like your Momma, able to fix Serenity. And Hope’s like your Auntie River, and can draw. It’s just different. It doesn’t mean I love either of you less.”

Bethie leaned her head on his shoulder. “Sorry, Daddy.”

“No need to be. And I’ll put your picture up next to Hope’s in the infirmary, then I can see them every day.”


Natural father, he heard in his mind, and knew without looking that River was smiling broadly.

“So, what’re we all doing out here?” Kaylee asked, coming out from the back of the house wiping her hands on a cloth.

“Painting,” Bethie said, scrambling to her feet and taking her picture to her mother.

“That’s great!” Kaylee grinned widely. “And I think you’ve got Uncle Jayne perfectly.”

“Me?” the big man asked, trying to see. “Which one’s me?”

“The one with the muscles,” Bethie explained, holding her arm so that her little bicep bulged.

“That’d be right, then.” He preened a little.

“Where are my first mate and pilot?” Mal asked, leaning back onto his elbows. “You ain’t cooked ‘em both up for supper, have you?”

The children giggled.

“No, I haven’t.” Kaylee raised one eyebrow at him, then went on, “Zoe made Hank go back to the ship to take a shower after he cleaned that pike, ‘cause she said he stank of fish guts.”

Jayne shuddered slightly.

“And?” Mal prompted.

“Well, she mighta gone with him. Made sure he got washed all over.” Kaylee chuckled.

“I don’t know,” Mal said, shaking his head. “My crew. Seems to me they’ve only got one thing on their mind.”

Freya turned her head slowly to look at him, reminding him mentally of what they’d just been up to.

Simon saw the look and sighed heavily.

“Anyways, he gave me the fish, and I made a pike pie,” Kaylee put in quickly. “Got the head poking out and everything.”

“Star gazy pie,” River said, laying back and looking into the blue. “Should be a dozen, but one will do.”

“When will it be ready?” Jayne asked.

Kaylee waved her finger at him. “Not ‘til dinnertime.”

“That’s hours! I’ll collapse and die of hunger long ‘fore that!” He let himself fall back onto the dirt, making suitably gruesome noises as he ‘died’. River slapped him gently on the arm as there was general laughter.

“I conjure it’ll take a while longer than that,” Mal said, trying to suppress his own smile.

“Well, if Jayne’s likely to expire any time soon,” Kaylee put in, “I’d better tell you all Ma’s making some tea, and I think there might be cookies.”

Jayne sat up again. “Cookies?”

“He’s alive,” Simon muttered. “It’s a miracle.”

“Surely is,” Mal agreed.

“Mmn, cookies,” Bethie commented, smacking her lips in anticipation.


The sun was heading down from its peak in the long Phoros day as Ellie Frye began to gather in her washing.

Jayne watched her, the only adult not taking advantage of a little rest before dinner. “I’d’ve thought there’s a coupla hours good drying weather to come yet,” he commented, chewing on the end of his unlit cigar.

“It’s going to storm,” she prophesied.

“You being metaphorical?”

“Now where did you learn a word like that?” She dropped her pegs into the basket.

“Hey, I ain’t as stupid as some folks like to make out,” he said with a grin. “It’s just there ain’t much call for education in my line of work - it kinda gets in the way of the intimidatin’. But I been reading, stuff River picks out for me.”

“I thought that young woman might have a hand in it.” She pulled a sheet from the line and rolled it up before placing it with the pegs. “But no, I’m not being metaphorical. It’s going to rain, hard.”

He looked up into the cloudless sky. “Ya think?”

“Before nightfall.”

“How can you tell?”

She smiled at him and continued gathering in her washing. “Experience.”

The big man nodded slightly. “I get that. But how’d you get from that kinda blue to a storm?”

“It’s the wrong kind of blue.” She picked up the basket

“Here, let me take that.”

“No, your hands –“

“Are fine.” He held them up so she could see the splints. “This is just so’s I get a lot of sympathy and people being nice to me.”

She laughed. “Then I think you can make yourself useful.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He took it from her, holding it carefully against his chest. “But I still don’t understand.”

She led the way back into the house. “Neither do I, but it’s the case. Eddie knows I’m right, started believing me after the big storm when Pete was, oh, about three months. Near washed away the house we were living in back then in a flash flood, and it was only because I made everyone go upstairs that we made it through.”

Jayne glanced back out into the still air. “Is kinda sultry.”

“There’s that too. Phoros is pretty dry, as I’m sure you‘ve worked out by now.” She patted the table. “Set that down here.” He did as he was told as she carried on. “But sometimes there’s something happens up north, and we get rain sweeping down on us.” She smiled as she lifted out a sheet, looking at him. “Can you manage this?”

“No problem.”

She handed one end to Jayne, going back to the matter of in hand. “Storms mostly in the spring, and sometimes not even then. We’ve had years where it don’t rain at all, but that’s rare. Still, if it happens this time of year, it …” She paused, shaking out the sheet and folding it in half, watching carefully as Jayne did the same from his end. “Good. You’ve got that right.”

“Used to do it with my Ma,” he admitted, trying not to fumble it. “She was always a stickler for things being neat.”

“I wish I could have met her, Jayne.”

He smiled. “I think you two would’ve got on real well.” He folded again. “Anyway, you were saying about this time of year.”

“Oh, yeah.” They carried on as they talked. “Well, it’s like things have banked up. Like the blue of the sky is all squished together, making it darker. Do you get my drift?”

“Somewhat,” Jayne conceded. He knew, like the rest of the crew of Serenity, that Kaylee’s momma was gifted in certain ways, so this wasn’t that much of a leap. “So the pressure’s gotta give?”

“That’s it.” She smiled at him. “Exactly. And it ain’t like it happens every year. Last one was ‘bout three seasons ago, so we’re about due.”

“So how’s it different to other storms?” Jayne pushed his cigar into his shirt pocket, wary of getting tobacco on the clean linen.

“If it’s gonna be the way I see it, you’ll find out.”

“Only maybe I’d better tell Mal. If’n we need to batten down the hatches …”

“Probably a good idea,” Ellie agreed. “After you’ve finished helping me.” She handed him another sheet.

Jayne grinned. “Yes, ma’am.”


“… ninety-nine, one hundred.” Ethan lowered his hands from his eyes and looked around, blinking in the bright sunlight. He could hear giggling, but couldn’t see any of the other children. He tilted his head, trying to figure out where the voices were coming from.

Mal stood on the back porch, his arms crossed, watching his son carefully. Bethie had decided they were going to play Hide and Seek, quickly determining that Ethan should be the first seeker. It was obvious the little boy wanted to go and hide with the others, but he let her order him about. Mal had to smile, wondering when it was going to be that such a considerate nature would come to an end, and the arguing would start. Although, having Freya for a mother, maybe Ethan would never lose that streak on honour. He hoped not.

“You know Bethie’s probably cheating,” he said, smiling indulgently. “Seeing as she’s a Reader. She’ll know where you are, and when you’re coming.”

“I know.” Ethan sighed from the depths of his boots. “I won’t win. I know that.”

“So why do you play?”

The little boy shrugged. “Bethie wants to.”

“And do you always do what Bethie wants?”

“Mostly. It’s easier.”

Mal had to laugh. “I know, big feller. Same with your Ma.”

They shared a knowing look, then Ethan ran off to start his searching.

The back door opened and Jayne stuck his head out. “Mal, you got a mo?”

“Sure.” He stepped inside, blinking a couple of times to adjust his eyes quicker to the relative gloom. “What’s on your mind?” he added, then realised Ellie and her husband were in the kitchen, with the other adult members of his crew. “’M I missing something here?”

Jayne went quickly over what Ellie had said about the storm coming. “Thought you ought to know.”

“Yeah. Yeah, you were right.” He turned to Eddie. “Is it going to be bad?”

Eddie shrugged. “No way of knowing. Ellie’s right, we ain't had a storm in a few years, and although I trust her with most things, it’s possible it might just be a lot of water falling out of the sky at once. But that’d be bad enough – the ground’s hard as iron at the moment, so it won’t soak in much.”

“We’ve survived storms before,” Mal pointed out. “There was that time back on Lazarus -”

“We’d better call the kids in, don’t you think?” Kaylee interrupted, hurrying out.

Simon looked around at the others. “It’s all right. She’s still a bit …” He didn’t finish, just followed his wife outside.

“Maybe you should talk to her,” Eddie said to his wife.

“Not ‘til she’s ready,” Ellie answered quietly.

“Afraid,” River whispered.

“We know, xaio nu.” Mal inhaled. “You think we might all be better on board Serenity?”

Eddie shook his head. “We should be safe enough here. Ground slopes down somewhat from where you’re standing, but if you’ll take my advice, you’ll bring your ship up and put her in the field out back. Port Control might not like it, but last time it rained hard there was a flash flood took out half the landing area, and toppled a couple of ships into the resulting holes. “

“Badly damaged?”

“Well, let’s just say it took some hard work making ‘em spaceworthy again.”

Mal looked at Zoe. “Take Hank.”

“Yes, sir.” She strode out, collecting her husband on the way.

to be continued


Tuesday, August 12, 2008 10:21 AM


Just a little bit of normalcy before the storm - are you foreshadowing, Jane? I really felt sorry for Ben in the midst of so much talent and diversity. Ethan is getting a very interesting look at growing up!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 11:38 AM


Very cool. I just love how diverse and how wonderful each of your characters are. Ready for the action to start.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 12:44 PM


Loved this, so homely and all the children getting a chance to shine. Don't like the sound of the upcoming storm but good to have a warning ahead of time. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 1:06 PM


Love the use of the foreshadowing of the storm. And it ties this story to the end of the BDM.

I also loved the look at the talents of each of the children. They will all be remarkable when they grow up.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 9:11 AM


A storm is never just a storm for Mal and the crew. But I've loved the fluffy goodness of the last few chapters.



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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!]