Ghost Stories
Friday, November 21, 2008

Technically Maya (just) but totally AU. I was having a bad day and needed to get this out of my head. Angst. And nothing to do with my other stories unless you squint. STANDALONE


They were all sitting around the table, telling ghost stories. So far, Kaylee’s had been voted the most effective, but that was because she did all the noises as well, although Mal’s was considered a close second, particularly as he swore it was true.

“Then how come you never told me about Abner?” Zoe asked. “All these years and I thought you’d walked through that minefield all by yourself.”

“Maybe because I wasn’t sure. Still ain’t. But it’s a damn good story, don’t you think?” He twinkled slightly at her.


Then it was Hank’s turn, although his seemed to be more about hiding than actual ghosts as such.

Eventually there was only one member of the crew who hadn’t told a story.

“C’mon, moonbrain,” Jayne said, looking at his wife as she sat with her hands in her lap, her face half-hidden by her long dark hair. “You gotta have something.”

“Ghost stories …” She didn’t look up. “I don’t think I'm the right person to ask about ghost stories.”

“Oh?” Freya smiled. “Why’s that?”

“Because I see them all the time.” She finally lifted her head, and, as she knew it would, all the vibrant colour faded out of the warmly lit galley, her family becoming nothing more than dust dancing in the sharp light of Londinium. Her hair paled to white, and lines grew around her eyes and mouth. She touched the old tattoo around her ring finger. “All the time …” she repeated, her heart breaking.


Matthew Cobb stepped out of the groundcar and headed into the scrap yard. More than two dozen ships sat crowded in together, but none of them would ever fly again. He peered around.

“C’n I help you?” A young man came out of the low concrete building to the left of the entrance.

“I hope so. Someone called me. I'm Matthew Cobb.”

“Oh, yeah. I’m Harry Taylor.” He held out a hand and they shook. “Sorry about doing that, today of all days, but she’s back again.”

Matthew sighed. “I'm not surprised.”

“I mean, I know it’s the funeral and all, but I didn’t know what else to do. She’s been in there all day,” Harry added, rubbing his hands together as if they were cold. “I tried to make her leave, but she wouldn’t. Just sitting up there in that old ship.”

“She said she didn’t want to see him lowered into the ground.” Matthew shook his head. “They were together for so long, I think she might not have been able to stop herself from jumping in with him.”

“I heard about ‘em, of course. Everyone has. What they did. I just wish …”


Harry seemed to want to talk. “I mean, they changed everything, made it better for the likes of us small folks. But it weren't right, most of ‘em dying like that. But I guess at least your gran and grandad, they had each other.”

“And now it’s just her.”

“But she’s got you. And the rest of her family.”

“You don’t understand. She doesn’t think we need her.”

“I know she’s old but that’s crazy talk.“

Matthew straightened his jacket. “When are they scrapping her?” he asked, turning towards the old Firefly.

“Supposed to be today, but I reckon it’s gonna be tomorrow now. Not with her still on board.” He looked hopeful. “Can you get her out? I mean, she’s an old lady. I don’t want to have to call the Feds, or get physical, but … well, it’s getting colder, and she should be at home.”

“I’ve called my father. If I can’t make her leave, he’ll be here, but …”

“I’m just grateful I don’t have to go in there again,” Harry admitted. “She’s got a way of looking at you that makes you feel she can tell every little bad thing you did since you got out of diapers.”

“She probably can,” Matthew said, stepping on board.

Things hadn’t changed much since the last time she flew. Dust covered everything, of course, but he could almost hear voices calling each other, something about apples, maybe, and tiny feet in huge combat boots running on the overhead catwalks. Grandma had always said he was a little bit psychic, but he was pretty sure this was just his imagination.

Climbing the stairs, hearing the metal groan, he walked into the kitchen, the only illumination coming from the broken windows above. She was sitting at the table, her hands demurely in her lap, her head dropped to her chest.

“Grandma?” He stepped closer, wondering why she looked different, then realised it was because she’d let her hair down at some point, so it flowed in a white waterfall over her shoulders. She’d never done that before, not in all the time he could remember. It was as if she’d needed to let it free to exorcise the grief.

“Grandma?” he repeated.

There was no answer, and no sound at all.

Reaching out with a hand that trembled, he touched her arm, then slid his fingers up to her neck. There was no pulse, nothing to indicate a beautiful, insane woman had once existed within.

Matthew felt tears threaten to fall, and he leaned forward. She weighed almost nothing, and his muscles barely felt the strain as he lifted her into his arms, holding her close against his chest as he turned and left the kitchen.

At the top of the stairs, though, he paused. Voices. He would swear, always, that there were voices behind him, some of people he’d hardly met, others of his family, chief amongst them his Grandma, holding forth that ghosts had to exist, otherwise she would never have seen any. Another voice, a man this time, calling her his xiao nu, said he agreed with her.

Matthew didn’t look back. The warm glow that lit the corridor in front of him was enough to make the tears fall freely down his cheeks, and he didn’t want the spell to end. It was enough that she was with her husband, with her friends, and finally at peace. Instead he glanced down at his Grandma, and realised she was smiling.


Friday, November 21, 2008 8:10 AM


Beautiful. Truly moving. I'll love it eternally.

Friday, November 21, 2008 8:20 AM


Oh.. my. Very well done. So beautiful.. I can see it so clearly, like a movie I have seen before.

Friday, November 21, 2008 12:50 PM


Wow. Tender and beautiful, I loved that her grandson Matthew in the future would be the one to find her at her life's end and understand. Lucky the crew didn't know what she was seeing or it might have creeped them out. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, November 21, 2008 1:03 PM


Beautiful story. I think I have a tear in my eye.

Friday, November 21, 2008 5:55 PM


So very emotional. I just love how you ended it. Gorgeous!!

Friday, November 21, 2008 6:19 PM


What a beautiful way to bring a ghost story full circle. Now they'll always be together.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 4:49 AM


I reread several folks' works on this site at least once a year, and yours is one of them. I always forget that this one is coming in the list, and it always makes me shed a tear, which is sometimes problematic to explain if I'm at work. I just wanted to let you know that your work is loved by at least one lurker out here, who rarely comments but always appreciates. Keep writing!(and if you know where Hotpoint is, thump him in the head and tell him to get back here).


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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!]