BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Dead Man's Chest - Part IX
Monday, February 2, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. After the trial and other various tribulations, the crew look forward to the pre-wedding party. But things never quite go smooth ... NEW CHAPTER (oh, and some Maya fluff for AMDOBELL ...)


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1840    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

The next morning, far too early for civilised folks to be up, especially considering the activities of the day before, River ran through Serenity, pounding on all the doors. “Time to get up!” she shouted. “Time to party!”

Down in the captain’s cabin, Mal growled. “If she don’t shut up I’m gonna …”

“What?” Freya asked, raising herself up onto her elbow to look at him. “Put her out the airlock? Suggest she does the septic vat for the foreseeable? You really have a death wish or something?”

“Who from? Her?”

“Or Jayne. Or both.” She chuckled lightly.

“I’d’ve thought being a mother might’ve slowed her down.” Mal pushed his hand through his hair, making it stand on end.

“No sign of it so far.” She leaned forward slightly, moving his shirt to one side and kissing the soft skin just above his collar bone.

“Couldn’t you talk to her?” He shivered at her touch. “You know, seeing how she looks on you.”

“What about you?” The kissing had turned to licking, just the tip of her tongue pressing into the indentation. “You’re her yan qin.”

“No, I ain’t. That’d make Jayne my son-in-law, and I ain’t having that.” His breath hitched. “Ai ren, I think you’re gonna have to hold that thought. Least for the time being. I need to shower if I’m gonna be anywhere near presentable for this here shindig.”

“We’ve got plenty of time. No-one expects us until lunchtime.” Her lips fastened on his neck.

“Yeah, but –“

She slid across him, her thighs opening around his hips. “You fell asleep last night,” she pointed out.

“I was tired!”

“I wasn’t.”

“So I'm supposed to give in to your … wuh de mah … to your advances whenever you feel … feel like it?” The way she was nibbling his ear was making him lose concentration, and the silver Firefly around her neck was pressing into his chest next to the gold cross she’d given him.

“Absolutely.” Her breath made his skin tingle.

Without thinking, his hands came up and held onto her waist. “You’re a terrible woman,” he murmured.

“I thought that was what you loved about me.”

“One of the many.” He managed to regain enough control to glance towards the closed door to the nursery. “The kids?”

“Ethan’s telling Jesse a story. They’ll be a while.”

“You … you told him?”

“Asked.”

“Oh … good.” His fingers ran up her spine, playing the vertebrae under her tattoo.

The sound of River running back down the top corridor, still banging and shouting, permeated through, but stopped suddenly before she reached their bunk. Freya smiled, and went to work on the top button of Mal’s pants.

“Did you just …” he began to ask, then lost all power of conscious speech.

---

“But why can’t Fiddler come?” Bethie asked, fidgeting as Kaylee tied her hair back in a pink ribbon.

“’Cause some folks don’t like dogs.” Her mother half-closed one eye to gauge whether it was straight or not. “Sometimes they’re allergic, and other times … they just don’t.”

“But he’s so small. And he wouldn’t be a bother.”

“Sorry, this is Fiddler we’re talking about?” Kaylee turned her daughter around. “He could find trouble on a deserted hunk of rock out of the edge of the Rim with two paws tied behind his back. Pretty much like your Uncle Mal.”

Bethie giggled. “Paws.” She stepped back. “Do I look nice?”

Kaylee ran an appraising eye over the little girl, from the pale pink party dress to the white ankle socks. “You look real shiny.” She smiled. “You’re gonna have to do your own shoes, though. I can’t get down there too easy no more.”

“Okay, Momma.” She sat down on the bed and picked up one of her black patents. “If I tied Fiddler up outside, could he come?”

“And if he got loose. Ran away. What would you do then?”

“Fine,” Bethie huffed. “He can stay and play with Maoli.”

“’Kay.” Kaylee had to suppress the grin that threatened. “I'm sure Maoli will like that.” She eased her back, then her face paled. “You sit quietly ‘til we’re all ready, and I’ll just …” She clamped a hand to her mouth and ran as fast as she could towards the toilet cubicle.

Simon, Hope’s hand in his, leaned in the doorway. “Bethie, where’s your mother going?”

“Throwing up,” the little girl said, her tongue stuck out of the side of her mouth as she concentrated on doing up the button on her shoe strap.

“Of course.” He looked down at his other daughter. “Hope, sit with Bethie for a while, okay?”

“Yes, Daddy.” She nodded her blonde head and climbed up next to her sister, staring as she always did at the pirate ship in a bottle.

Simon hurried to help his wife. “Honey, are you okay?” he called through the closed door.

“Shiny. Really. I'm just shiny.” Kaylee slid down the wall to sit down on the stall floor, wiping at her mouth with the back of her hand.

“Then do you want to let me in?”

“Not really.”

“I need to check you over, Kaylee.”

“I'm fine.” She flushed the toilet, letting the time it took for the noise to stop to gather her thoughts. “You know, maybe I’ll stay behind. Got a coupla things I need to do in the engine room. I could get on with those.”

“Kaylee, open the door. Before I go and get Jayne so he can take it off its hinges.”

She glared at the panel, but knew from his tone that he wasn’t joking. Reaching up she flipped the lock. “Fine.”

Simon opened the door and went down onto his heels next to her, noting the slight sheen of sweat on her forehead, and the shadows in her cheeks. He stroked his hand down her arm, taking her fingers in his, unobtrusively checking her pulse as he did so. “Bao bei, I wish I could do something.”

“I know.” Kaylee put her head back onto the tiles. “And it’s gonna be worth it, holding this little boy, but … You know how the Cap jokes sometimes about it being him getting pregnant next time?”

Simon smiled. “Whatever you want.”

“Although River talked before about there being twins coming.” She managed a shaky grin. “Could be you.”

“I doubt it. I don’t know how you manage carrying one.” The sincerity in his words was evident. “And you’ve got to come. It’s traditional, as everyone keeps telling me.”

“I just thought it might be better, you know, if I need to …” She nodded towards the toilet bowl.

“I'm sure they have facilities at the hall.”

“I s’pose.” She held out her other hand. “C’mon. Help me up.” He pulled her to her feet as she asked, “How’s Jason?”

Simon had gone to the feed store to see Gilford immediately he was dressed. “All right. For a man his age, he’s actually physically pretty good, but losing his wife like that, even though it was expected … he’s finding it hard.”

She rinsed her mouth in the small sink. “But it’s been near on a year.”

Bao bei, if anything happened to you I’d never get over it.”

He was rewarded with a glowing smile. “Me neither, Simon.” Drying her face she added, “Think Sam might be able to help?”

“Long distance counselling?” Simon’s lips twitched. “I'm sure there are closer people.”

“Yeah, but he knows Sam.”

“I can suggest it. Although I’m pretty sure what the answer will be.”

“Me too.” Kaylee sighed. “And I mean it about staying here. I ain't gonna be the life and soul of the party.” She walked out of the toilet back into the common area. “And just the thought of all that food …” She shuddered, wondering if maybe she hadn‘t left the toilet too soon.

He followed her. “Honey, you have to eat.”

“I know.”

“The baby’s taking what he needs, but the only place that can come from is you, but he doesn’t understand if you’re throwing up. He just keeps taking, and if you don’t replace it –“

She whirled on him. “Simon, I ain't a child! I understand! And if I could keep down more’n a coupla bits of toast, I’d be gorging myself stupid!” Her voice had raised two levels.

“I didn’t mean to upset you,” Simon said, holding up both hands in the classic surrender pose. “I was just trying to explain that if you’re not putting weight on as you should, and if I have to, I’ll hook you up to a drip to get those nutrients into you.”

She stared at him. “You wouldn’t.”

“I would.” He reached out to her. “Anything to keep you safe.”

“Oh, Simon …” She couldn’t stay mad at him, even though the anger kept down the nausea. She slid into his arms.

Holding her as close as he could, he went on, “I want you to stay well, my darling Kaylee, no matter what. And I mean it about the drip.”

“Won’t have to.” River stepped silently down the stairs, a slim glass phial in her hand. “Here.”

“What’s that?” Kaylee asked, looking past her husband.

“It will stop you throwing up.” She held it out.

“Really?”

Simon held her back. “Wait a minute. What is that?“

“I told you. Something to stop Kaylee throwing up.”

“Where did you get it from?”

“I made it. Collected the plants. Fermented it.” She shook it slightly. “It will work, Kaylee.”

“How do you know it isn’t poisonous?” Simon asked.

River gave him her ‘boob’ look. “I tested it.” She glanced into the infirmary, her nose wrinkling. “It’s herbal.”

“That doesn’t mean –“

“And it’s Mother Frye’s recipe.”

“My Ma?” Kaylee’s eyes grew round. “You talked to my Ma?”

“Waved her. She gave me the recipe.”

“Is that …” She couldn’t finish. “My Ma doesn’t ever give that recipe out. It’s a secret. There’s stuff in there that she ain’t never –“

“Herbs,” River repeated, holding out the phial. “Drink it. All of it. Now.”

“Kaylee, I don’t know if you should without me making sure –“ Simon began, but his wife grabbed the glass tube.

“If River says it’s okay, it’s okay.” Kaylee fixed him with a glare. “’Sides, it’s my Ma’s.”

“That doesn’t mean -”

“You impugning my Ma’s recipes? That book’s been handed down from mother to daughter since olden days, and one day it’ll be mine.” She stuck her chin out. “Are you saying they’re all fei oo?”

“Kaylee, I didn’t say any such thing. Just that it might be better if I tested this first.”

The young mechanic looked at her sister-in-law. “You followed the recipe? Exactly?”

“Exactly,” River confirmed.

“Then that’s good enough.” She removed the stopper.

“Just don’t come running to me if you grow a second head or something,” Simon said with a sigh.

“So long as it works.” Without a second thought she poured the entire contents into her mouth. She swallowed, then licked her lips. “Mmn. Tastes like strawberries.”

“Now what?” Simon asked his sister.

“Nothing. All done.” She turned on her heel, her dark hair flowing behind her. “No more sickness,” she added as she ran out of the common area back towards the shuttle. “And I’ve kept the recipe for next time.”

Simon looked at Kaylee. “How do you feel?”

The young mechanic put her head onto one side. “Not sure. Don’t feel sick, that’s for certain. It’s kinda… warming.” She rubbed her belly. “Right behind the baby, too.”

“If you feel anything strange, anything at all, you tell me. No matter what. Or when.”

“Okay.” She smiled at him, welcome colour coming back into her cheeks. “No problem.”

“You do realise your mother would have been burned as a witch back on Earth-that-was, don’t you?” Simon said, shaking his head slightly, then wincing as his darling wife punched him on the arm.

---

Ben watched Hank shaving, his little face doing the same actions as his father as he slid the plastic razor down his cheeks. Mal had bought him the set as a gift, mainly because Ethan had asked for one and he knew the other boy would feel left out otherwise. Ben had grinned widely when given it, and every chance he got he stood on a small stool next to the pull-down sink, lathered up his face and copied his daddy.

Hank couldn’t help but feel a surge of paternal pride, but it brought home to him just how quickly time could pass out in the black. “Just … don’t you go growing up too fast, dong mah?” he said, looking down at his son.

“Okay, Daddy.” He pulled his top lip down over his teeth and attended to the skin below his nose.

“’Cause there’s plenty of years for you to be thinking about being a man, and not so many to be a boy.” Hank’s mind skittered back to his own youth, losing his parents at a young age, and having to accept things weren’t ever going to be the same again.

Ben fixed him with his grey eyes, shining out of his coffee-coloured face. “Having too much fun, Daddy,” he admitted, grinning widely, then leaned over his bowl to rinse the remains of the soap from his skin.

“That’s my boy,” Hank said approvingly. “Don’t ever stop having fun.” He did the same, and for a few moments there was nothing except the sound of a man and his son blowing bubbles.

The bunk hatch opened, and Hank quickly wiped his eyes so he could see. “They up yet?” he asked as Zoe climbed down the ladder.

Serenity’s first mate smiled. “Finally. Mal’s just finishing in the shower and Freya’s getting dressed.”

“Can’t we buy our own boat?” He rubbed his chin with the towel. “Then we can stay in bed all hours, and get up to … whatever it is the Cap and his wife get up to.”

“Is this before or after you write a best-seller?” Zoe looked at herself in the mirror and tweaked a curl or two. She’d let her hair flow over her shoulders, but the only other concession to the party was the flame red top she had on, one of those Inara had given her when she was pregnant. It swung over her hips and was cinched in with a wide belt.

“Considering our savings amount to a handful of credits and some fluff, I think it’s probably gonna have to be after. Maybe I can get some writing done this week, seeing as we’re not going anywhere.”

She took Ben‘s flannel and wiped his face, cleaning around his ears in spite of his protests. “I thought you had writer’s block.”

“That?” He waved his hand. “Hardly any.”

“That bad, huh?”

He slung the towel over the rail and grinned. “I am now going to change the subject with great skill and dexterity. What do you think of my wrapping?” He nodded towards the parcel on the table.

She glanced at it critically. It had brown paper instead of fancy coloured stuff, but the green ribbon around it was straight, and the bow was quite well done. “You’re getting better.”

Hank puffed up a little with pride. “Thank you.”

“Where did the ribbon come from?”

“Kaylee,” Hank admitted. “Said I could use it.”

“I helped!” Ben piped up.

Zoe smiled at her son. “And you did real well, too.”

“Oh, so I’m just getting better, but Ben did well?” Hank raised an eyebrow at her. “What is this, favouritism?”

“Absolutely. Now, finish getting dressed or we’ll be late.”

Hank picked up the shirt lying ready. “When we do buy our own boat, I’ll tell you, I’m gonna be captain,” he muttered as he pushed his arms into the sleeves. “There’ll be none of this talking back to me.”

“You mean like Mal has now?” Zoe asked, smiling as she helped Ben into his pants.

---

Jayne and Matty were already waiting in the cargo bay for the others, the younger Cobb stroking Maoli, who lay across his knees like a svelte grey lap wrap. She was purring as he rubbed one finger around her ears then down her spine, and she stretched languidly, her claws emerging briefly from their sheaths then relaxing back.

“You know,” Jayne commented, “considering she was nothing but a fur ball when Ethan found her, she’s grown into something of a slinky cat.”

“Did you ever have a pet?” Matty asked. “You know, when you were out on your travels.”

“Nah. No time. Nor the inclination. Life I led, mostly I was keeping an eye out for the next man trying to kill me, and figuring when to move on. Having an animal around my heels would only’ve kept me back.” He leaned over and flicked Maoli’s tail, and the cat gave a small ‘rowr‘, whether of satisfaction or annoyance was difficult to tell. “You?”

“We had a dog,” Matty admitted, surprising his brother. “Ma thought it might help, you know, give me something to worry about apart from her, take my mind of your … well …” He stopped, and seemed suddenly very interested in the soft fur around Maoli’s chin.

“My leaving,” Jayne finished. “It’s okay. You can say it.”

“I didn’t understand,” Matty said quickly. “Pa dying, then you leaving … I didn’t understand what you’d done, not for … not for a long time.”

“Not your fault, Matty.”

“Yes, it was. I let my feelings … my hatred …” A blush had crept up his chest and now coloured his face.

“I killed a man. I wasn’t even old enough to drink legal and I took a man’s life.” Jayne didn’t look at his brother, just stared out into the late morning sunlight. “And I threw up the minute I’d done it.”

“Really?”

“Really. Seeing him, all that blood … knowing that a moment before he’d been a walking, talking human being and I’d turned him into a nothing, just a bag o’bones ready for the graveyard.”

“He killed Pa.”

“I know. But … what I did … broke Ma’s heart. And she thought it was for the best, that I leave.”

“But if you’d stayed, you could’ve -”

“What?” Now Jayne turned to gaze at his sibling. “Gone down the mines? Got damplung like you?” He shook his head. “No. Ma had the right of it. It might’ve taken a while longer, but I’d’ve left, tried to make my own way in the ‘verse, probably ended up being just what I am.”

“A husband and father?”

Jayne had to smile. “Nah, I’d pretty much say not that. Likely I’d still have been a merc, selling my gun to anyone as wanted to buy it. No good for much else, and it was all too easy learning not to throw up after killing. Hell, truth is, I’d prob’ly have been six feet under myself by now, if I’d stayed here.”

“You don’t know that.”

“And you don’t know I wouldn’t.” He glanced up towards the shuttle. “My River, sometimes she sees what might’ve been. Puts two and two together and makes more’n four. And there ain’t a one of ‘em that ends with me sitting on a porch here on Ezra with my kids by my side. In most of ‘em I’m dead, so I figure I got the best end of the deal, even if it meant we didn’t talk for twenty years.”

“She can see the future?”

“Nah. More like what’s not.” The big man chuckled. “And it ain’t like what she says always happens. There’s ‘pparently one ‘might’ve been’ where elves paint the bay sky blue, but it ain’t never happened yet.”

“I’d like to see it if it does,” Matty admitted.

“Me too.”

They laughed companionably as the Tam family hurried through from the common area.

“Hey, we late?” Kaylee asked, puffing slightly. As the pregnancy progressed, she was finding it harder to rush anywhere, and wondered how River had managed to stay so light on her feet virtually right until she gave birth.

“Nah,” Jayne said, grinning at her. “We’re just sitting here, chewing the fat.”

“Daddy?” Hope looked up at Simon. “What does ‘chewing the fat’ mean?”

“Just that they were talking about nothing much in particular,” her father said.

“Oh. Thank you.” She slid her thumb into her mouth.

“No, honey, don’t do that.”

“’Kay.” Pulling it from her lips she wiped it down her dress.

Simon sighed.

“Matty was just telling me he used to have a dog,” Jayne said as Bethie crossed to them, automatically stroking Maoli.

She looked up, all big-eyed. “Ooh. What kind?”

Matty laughed. “Don’t think it was any kind. Just a mutt. Sort of brown colour, with black ears.” He shook his head. “I loved that dog.”

“What happened to it?” she asked, looking past him out into the dust of Ezra as if half expecting to see it.

“What happens to everything. He grew old. Died.”

Now Bethie’s eyes filled with tears. “D … died?” she stammered, staring at him. “Is Fiddler going to …” She couldn’t finish.

Jayne reached forward quickly, picking her up and settling her onto his knee. “One day,“ he admitted. “But that ain’t gonna be for a long time yet. Not for years and years.”

Matty felt guilty for upsetting her. “’Sides, I hear tell small dogs live a lot longer than big ones. And most of ‘em don’t have real doctors looking after ‘em.”

“You mean like my Daddy?” Bethie asked, blinking hard.

“’Xactly.”

Bethie relaxed. “Years and years and years and years,” she said softly, leaning into her Uncle Jayne’s shoulder.

“Good save,” Kaylee murmured to Simon.

“It will happen one day, though,” Simon replied, equally quietly.

“I know. So does she. It’s just … she’s young.”

“And we forget just how young sometimes, don’t we?”

Kaylee slid her hand into his. “That we do.”

“Hey, somebody getting some affection I’m not?” Hank said from the top catwalk, standing aside so Zoe could go down the stairs in front of him, Ben hurrying down to stand next to Hope.

“What, you want me to dangle you on my knee?” Jayne said.

Hank appeared to think about it for a moment, then said, “Honey, shoot me now.”

“I’m not armed,” his wife pointed out, reaching the cargo bay floor.

“I am,” Jayne said. “I could lend it ya.”

“No shooting on my ship ‘less I say,” Mal’s voice said before the man himself appeared above them, Freya just behind. Ethan and Jesse scampered down to join the other children.

“What, not even a little bit?” Jayne complained. “I wouldn’t hurt him much. Just a flesh wound.”

Bethie giggled.

“No.” Mal shifted the box under his arm. “We all here?”

“Not quite. Moonbrain!” Jayne yelled.

“Coming!” River’s voice filtered from the shuttle.

Mal shook his head. “As urbane as ever,” he muttered to himself. “Well, it’s time we got gone,” he said in his normal tone.

“We weren’t the ones keeping everyone waiting,” Kaylee pointed out, then grinned delightedly as the faintest of pink tinges swept across her captain’s cheeks.

“That’s as maybe, but we need to go. Now.”

As if she’d been listening, Maoli got to her feet on Matty’s lap, stretched her back so that she curved up high in the middle, then jumped noiselessly to the floor. With another ‘rowr’, this time at Ethan, she strolled silently up the stairs, a study in nonchalance, before disappearing through the top doorway.

“You know,” Mal whispered to Freya, “I’m thinking that cat might have the right of it. Can’t help feeling I’d be better off curling up on someone’s bed instead of going to this here shindig.”

“You’re going.”

“Damn.”

---

The party was taking place in the local hall, and anyone who was anyone seemed to have been invited. And anyone who wasn’t anyone, but might have been someone in a former life. Or knew someone who had been anyone. Or … basically it seemed to be the whole town.

Leaning against the empty fireplace Judge Warren Jefferson held court, surrounded by his five daughters and his wife.

“They all his?” Jayne asked, eyeing them carefully.

“Yep,” Matty confirmed. “Dan’s the only boy amongst ‘em, and the only one married.”

“Couldn’t wait to get out from the apron strings, huh?”

“Pretty much. Gets himself elected Sheriff then goes and ties himself up to Deirdra Walsh, as was.”

“Yeah, River was talking about her. She thinks the Sheriff’s playing away from home.”

“He isn’t. It’s just she can be such a … a harpy sometimes that he works all the hours he can, just so he doesn’t have to face her.”

Jayne shook his head, not surprised that Matty would know. Somewhere like Port Town, most people knew everyone else’s business. It was just a fact of life.

Mal was staring at the pile of gifts on the table by the door while Freya smoothed down Ethan’s hair and adjusted his little collar.

“I’m guessing seventeen toast racks, four table lamps and a coupla dozen tea towels,” he said quietly.

“Then it’s a good job we didn’t get any of those, isn’t it?” She twinkled at him.

“What did we get them, by the way?” He’d found the parcel already wrapped, the result of a shopping trip Freya had made the day before.

She smiled enigmatically, and instead led the way towards where the bride-to-be stood, greeting the guests, a younger version of herself at her side.

“So glad you could make it,” Jolene said.

“We wouldn’t miss it,” Freya responded, leaning forward and kissing the other woman on the cheek.

“Oh, and I don’t think you’ve met Katie yet, have you?” Jolene turned to her daughter. “Katie, this is Freya and Mal. They’re friends of Matty.”

Katie summoned up enough enthusiasm to say, “Nice to meet you.”

“You too,” Freya said. “Are you looking forward to the wedding?”

“I suppose.”

“Katie,” Jolene said warningly.

“Can I go talk to Tara, Mom?” Katie asked, a slight teenage whine in her voice.

“You only saw her ten minutes ago.”

“But we’ve got things to say.”

“Oh, go on. And see if you can’t find your brother.”

The whine increased. “Do I have to?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, all right.” She slouched off.

“Sorry about that,” Jolene said. “Sometimes I wonder if I ever taught my kids manners at all.”

“Don’t worry about it. I think all girls have to go through it. It’s like a right of passage.”

Jolene laughed. “They need a man around. Someone who can … be a father to them.”

“I think Matty will do just right.” Freya nodded across the room. “Have you forgiven him yet?”

Jolene glanced at Matty, who waved at her. “Not sure.”

“I would, if I were you. They’re only men, after all.”

“Oh, I know. And my first husband was just the same, ‘cept he never managed to get himself bound.”

“Probably not for the lack of trying.”

“You’re right there.”

Mal, feeling his entire sex was being slighted somehow, said, “So what happens now? There something we need to know? One of these traditions you’re keen on?”

Jolene laughed. “No. No traditions. Just eat, have a drink, and enjoy yourselves.”

“I think we can manage that.”

A new arrival moved forward, and Mal hooked his arm through Freya’s, steering her away. “You think Jesse’s going to be like that?” he asked, more than a little alarmed. “All … moany like that Katie.”

“Probably. But she’ll grow out of it.”

“How long does it take?”

“Oh, I’d say from the time they reach double figures until they get married.” The look on his face made her laugh, and she pulled him closer so they touched down their bodies. “Mal, it might not happen with her at all. She’s a good girl, and with you as a father …”

“Now you’re just trying to make me feel better.”

“Is it working?”

“Not sure. Try some more.”

They headed for the small bar set up at the end of the hall, and Jayne watched them go.

“There was one ‘might have been’,” River said behind him. “You, sitting on a porch, surrounded by a dozen children, three dogs and parrot.”

He half turned as she slid under his arm. “Parrot?”

“Named Hamlet.”

“What the hell would I want with a parrot?”

She shrugged, moving her slim frame against him. “It was only a possibility.”

“And just who was the mother of this here brood?”

“Meg.”

“So if I’d stayed …”

River shook her head, one small strand of hair coming loose from its clip. “No. You didn’t stay. You left, lived a life full of wine, women and death, and came to me.”

His lips twitched. “Still say I got the best of the deal.”

“So do I.”

“So where’s my son and heir?”

“Kaylee’s showing him off to assorted townspeople. Her nephew.”

“Well, he is mighty handsome.”

“Mighty.” She frowned.

“What is it, Riv?” His own brow furrowed and he wanted to smooth the lines from hers.

“Not sure. Something.” She glanced towards the door.

He tensed. “Trouble?” He had a small handgun tucked in the back of his pants under his waistcoat, and another in one boot and a knife in the other. River, he knew, had her thigh holster on, and he was pretty sure Freya was carrying too, but if it was something big coming …

River looked frustrated. “Can’t tell,” she admitted. “Too many voices.”

“Be better if we went outside?”

“Not in here. Out there.” She turned to stare at the entrance to the hall, then everything slowed.

The door burst open and a man staggered through, barely keeping his feet as he half fell into the room. He took three steps, his mouth working but no sound coming out, arms flailing to try and maintain his balance.

From the corner of his eye Jayne saw River sweep her dress up and pull her gun from its holster, even as he did the same with the one in the small of his back. Zoe must have been lying earlier, because she suddenly had a pistol in her hand, as did Freya and Mal, all pointed at the interloper.

The man reeled, almost as if he was surprised to see so many people and not a few guns all trained on him. He lurched backwards, probably trying to get out, but instead he fell against the gift table, scattering brightly coloured boxes everywhere. He pitched onto his face and lay still.

There was silence, and time snapped back to normal.

“Hope there was nothing breakable in them presents,” Hank said, and nobody told him to shut up.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Monday, February 2, 2009 10:04 AM

BRIGLAD


Yay! More good stuff From Jane.

I love these chapters where we get to see the crew being just people instead of BDH's.

Brian

Monday, February 2, 2009 11:49 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


I just love when our BDHs get to be regular people. Jane was so good in this. He's such a good hubby and daddy. Oh, and of course, Mal was quite awesome, too.

Monday, February 2, 2009 2:32 PM

AMDOBELL


Yay, Jane0904, some MAYA and all for me! You can't see me but I am doing a happy dance with the biggest smile on my face you ever did see. I love how much goodness you crammed into this chapter, the wonderful moments between Mal and Frey, then Kaylee and Simon, and Hank and his son shaving was wonderful. Also loved Jayne and River and all the children, so very shiny. I knew something would have to happen and wonder if the man who turned up uninvited at the end has been shot or is just drunk. Very funny how so many of the crew pulled a gun on him though. *Xie xie ni*, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, February 2, 2009 3:53 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


I think everyone has said everything so here's another "Well Done!"

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 3:00 AM

KATESFRIEND


Loved Mal's reluctance to party and Bethie's discovery of the facts of canine mortality. And of course you had to leave it on a cliffhanger - thanks!


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OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR

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!]


Monied Individual - Part XIV
This wasn’t how an ex-companion did things. Perhaps she’d been hanging around a certain Firefly captain for too long. He listened at keyholes as if it were a competitive sport.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The crew go to the Spring Lights Procession, Mal gives some good news, and Sir Warwick puts in another cameo. Read, enjoy, review!]


Monied Individual - Part XIII
“It’s a family tradition, Mal.” Eugenia patted his hand. “No matter who marries into us, whatever their name, the moment they say ‘I do’ they become Rostovs. So you are Malcolm Rostov. It has a fine ring to it, don’t you think?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A chapter of Mal and Freya, and a small revelation from Eugenia Rostov. Read, enjoy, review!]


Monied Individual - Part XII
Hank had to shake his head. In this day and age, when the entire output of every quill, pen and two-fingered monkey thumping on a keyboard was available on the Cortex, this statement of wealth and power was way over the top. He loved the feel of paper himself, turning the pages to get to the next twist, scanning the print to try and guess the next turn, but even his collection wouldn’t fill more than a shelf here.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank thinks about Zoe, Zoe thinks about Hank, while Freya and Mal have lunch. Read, enjoy, review!]