Starlight (Part of the Shadowverse)
Saturday, January 31, 2009

My PG imaginings of what Mal's ma and pa might be like prior to Mal being on the scene.


Dust motes danced in the day's last rays as Aiden Reynolds poured grain into Foster's feed sack.

The light was then eclipsed as Hoss filled the doorframe. "The missus says you need to finish up. Supper's near ready. Said she's of a mind to eat it hot tonight."

"Tired of congealed vittles, is she?" Aiden asked, pitching another forkful of clean hay into the stall. It had been a while since he'd been home at a decent hour. Hell, this wasn't truly a decent hour – just night blurring to day and then some. That was calving season for you. When he wasn't looking after his own, he was being waved by a panicked neighbor, eyes as wide and spooked as the laboring cow.

And today? It'd been a good'n. Managed to save both the Weston cow and calf. Real good day; he couldn't wait to share the eve of it with Sabrina. "She say anything else?"

"Well," Hoss drawled, "there may've been something 'bout 'a powerful need for you to attend to some soap and water'."

He snorted, leading Foster to the fresh stall. A tub full of hot water, Sabrina running a cloth on his back… Sounded mighty fine to him. "Anything else?"

"Well… to put on that daisy yellow party dress."

Aiden's eyebrows crept near to his scalp. He looked across the horse's withers, staring Hoss down.

To his credit, the hand kept a poker-quality face as he shrugged his broad shoulders and added, "Said it made your eyes look so purdy." But even Hoss couldn't stay that stoic, and a slow grin spread wide across his face.

Aiden laughed hard enough that the stallion's ears swiveled back. That wouldn't do. Pulling his mirth in, he whispered assurances and ran his hand along Foster's neck, withers, and flank, making sure the horse was dried proper.

"Hoss?" Aiden called out, wondering where the man had disappeared to while he'd been tending to the horse. "You mind—" And there he was, waterbucket in hand.

"I'll take it from here. You get into that missus of yours."

"Thank ye, Hoss." Aiden clapped him on the shoulder. "The Starlight sure got blessed when you joined us."


"Brina? You in here?" Aiden called out as he ran his fingers through fresh washed hair, padding stocking-footed from the washroom to the kitchen. Echoes of good-smelling grub was all that met him, though where said grub might be was anyone's guess. Usual, they took their meals with the hands, occasional at the kitchen table, but that held nothing but a bowl of apples. "Sabrina?"

Mayhaps the porch? Brina wasn't there, but he found a spread worthy of far more than being gone overnight. Uncertain, he stared out toward the horizon, quick-like doing an inventory of anniversaries, birthdays, or any other date of importance a man who wanted to stay married should know, but he came up as empty as a dry well.

Blinking into being was the first eastern star. It was foolishness, but indulged himself. "Starlight, star bright, the first star I've seen tonight. I wish I may…" He considered changing his standing wish, making a request to know what was going on here and now, but held true. "… I wish I might. Have the wish I wish tonight."

The flicker of the oil lamp announced Sabrina as she climbed the steps from the yard, a passel of hollyhocks cradled in the crook of her arm. Shoot, she even had on her daisy yellow dress with her dark hair swept up all loose-like.


The smile that lit her face was better'n all the fuss and frillery on Sihnon. Better still was her freeing herself of floral and flame to pull him in close for a kiss. Aiden gave consideration to skipping dinner and scooping up Sabrina; he'd missed her fierce. There was a right good reason the men tagged them the Never-Ending Newlyweds. Sides, he might avoid being caught out not knowing what the occasion were.

Before he could give that plan legs, she'd eased off her kisses and was leading him by the hand to the table. "Hold that thought, mister. Dinner's not gonna warm back up as easy as you."

"It all looks mighty fine. Mighty fine," he replied, making his way to a chair, still at a loss for what all the fuss was about.

Giving thanks, they uncovered the dishes and he beheld meat and potatoes and gravy, not to mention beets and green beans from their precious store in the cellar. Mouthwatering, every bit of it.

In quick order, she caught him up to pace with the going-ons of the ranch. He felt a smile overtake his face. He loved how she loved the Starlight.

It was then that she gave him a searching look. "You all here? Everything okay at the Weston place? Mae making do alright? Tell me Lester had the good sense to be sober."

Aiden nodded. "Least while I was around. Mae offered me a piece of cobbler once the calf got turned, so must be getting on well enough." The chair creaked as he shifted back. Should he tell Sabrina now that Mae was expecting? Soon enough she'd be asking Brina to be midwifing for her. And it wouldn't be no surprise, given the stair step ages of their brood. While the sting of their own lost babe had eased, the ache was still there.

Reaching out across the table, her hand captured his, giving it a gentle squeeze as she asked, "So if everything went well at the Weston's, what's got you so skittish?"

Her tone was gentle, but he knew his wife. She might have eyes like a doe, but tracked like a wolf. He loved her fierceness and knew better than to try to outrun it. He shook his head, half-damp hair falling into his field of vision. Pushing it back, he admitted, "You went to a world of fuss and as hard as I try, I can't reckon why."

Her cheeks colored and she looked away.

Gou shi. Just how bad had he stepped in it? "Brina. Dove. I'm sorry, I'm a—"

"Oh, Aiden. It ain't like that." That wasn't the look of a woman scorned. 'Stead she was grinning like a cat who'd found the cream.

"What's it like, then?" he asked.

Her mouth kept puckering like it was forming words, but nothing came of it.

Trepidation trickled down his neck. "If you don't tell me now, I ain't gonna enjoy—"

"You're gonna be a pa."

"—another morsel of—" He stopped short, confounded by what his ears were claiming they heard. "Huh?"

"Parents. You and me. We're going to be parents," she repeated, coming around the table and setting herself in his lap.

He'd hoped and wished and prayed for exactly this, but wasn't a whit prepared for it happening. "When?" he asked weakly, still in disbelief.

"Which when?" she teased. "When'd we conceive or when am I due?"

"Yes." That seemed a safe answer.

"Mid September's my due date."

Aiden's brow crinkled. "But that means you're… you're in your fourth month."

"My husband, such the head for numbers," she said, kissing him soundly.

He wasn't having none of that. "Sabrina! Why didn't you tell me sooner?"

"I didn't want you to worry you none, 'specially with it being calving season."

"It's in my job description to worry! 'Sides, what if you, you…" He couldn't finish the thought as if it would jinx it all.

"But I haven't. And being I made it just fine to now, odds are real shiny. I should have a right normal pregnancy."

He wanted to scold her something fierce. But he couldn't rustle up the proper outrage. "I'm gonna be a pa," he whispered, testing the sound of it. Sounded right good. He put a gentle hand on the now-obvious bump, and repeated it loud and clear. "I'm gonna be a pa!"


Saturday, January 31, 2009 9:14 AM


Very well done and a delight to read. Loved the authenticity of ranch life and its realities, and loved your dialects. I always thought Mal had to come from a loving home, otherwise its loss wouldn't have hit him so badly.

Saturday, January 31, 2009 12:42 PM


I loved this to bits, made me feel all cosy and a-glow. Might you be writing a sequel? Just so we can see the little babe come into the 'verse? Very nicely done, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, February 1, 2009 2:10 PM


Are we going to hear what happened to Aiden, why Mal was raised by his Ma and " about 40 ranch hands "?

Monday, February 2, 2009 8:40 AM


I agree with the others. We need to hear more ...

Monday, February 9, 2009 3:56 PM


I'm not sure what the norms are hear for how to communicate, so here goes.

Thank you for liking it enough to want more. I just posted a second story. There's a third one that nearly done, and some other ideas in my head that I'll need to hold off until I complete a different fic commitment I made.


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Summertime (Part of the Shadowverse)
Malcolm helps Hoss deliver hay to a neighboring ranch.

Thank you to soundingsea and mommanerd for their betas; all mistakes are mine. Mal and the 'verse belong to Joss.

Sunshine (Part of the Shadowverse)
Set four years after "Starlight", Sabrina, Aiden, and Malcolm set out for a visit to family, but an outside force interferes with that simple goal.

Starlight (Part of the Shadowverse)
My PG imaginings of what Mal's ma and pa might be like prior to Mal being on the scene.