Jericho Wells - Part XIV
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. Mal and Hank discuss bank heists, Freya tells Ethan the good news and discovers something maybe not so good, and Simon and Kaylee talk babies. NEW CHAPTER (getting to the action, I promise!)


“Mal, if you’re done with your rest …” Hank called from the bridge as Serenity’s captain set foot in the corridor above his bunk, putting an entirely unnecessary emphasis on the last word.

Instead of heading for the kitchen and a coffee, Mal glared towards his pilot. “No-one’s cleaned out the septic vat so far this stay.” He climbed the steps two at a time.

“I wasn't saying anything,” Hank semi-blustered. “Just asking.”

“As long as it was just asking.”

“And … ah … you might wanna …” Hank indicated the front of his crotch vaguely.

Mal looked down. “Thanks,” he said, doing up a button that had somehow been missed.

“No problem.”

“So what did you want?”

“Ah.” Hank nodded. “I've got some info that might come in handy for our legitimate, not-breaking-into-a-bank-at-all-thank-you-very-much business dealing.”

“Likely to get me shot?”

“Hope not.”

“Me too.” He hitched his thumbs under his suspenders. “Better tell me, afore I die of old age.”

“It’s amazing what you can find on the Cortex,” Hank said happily. “I’m always amazed. Did you know you can ask a question like ‘how do you rob a bank’, and it tells you?”

Mal fixed him with a serious gaze. “This ain’t gonna link back to us, is it?”

“No. At the moment I’m an eight year old girl on Bernadette.”

“I can see the resemblance.”

“I mean, I’m piggybacking off her signal. I’ve slipped my question in with hers, and redirected the answer through half a dozen nodes.” He grinned. “I knew the new relays the Alliance’ve been setting up would come in handy.”

“As long as they ain’t got any sniffer programmes running.”

“They haven’t. Ariel – that’s the girl, by the way.” Hank rolled his eyes. “I know. Her parents named her after the planet. Poor kid‘s gonna end up needing a lot of –”


“Right. Well, she’s been asking too many odd questions for mine to tip the grid. Her last one was how to make her hair curly.” He ran his hand through his own untidy brown locks. “That one I’d be interested to know the answer to.”

“Hank, as fascinating as this is contemplating you in ringlets and ankle socks – and believe me when I say it ain’t – do you actually have anything that might be able to help us?”

“I think I have.” He grinned again. “And it’s all to do with the fact that the First National Bank of Jericho Wells has a Sirius Mark 3 walk-in safe.”

Out of the corner of his eye Mal saw Ethan stop in the corridor, look their way, then lean over the open hatch to his and Freya’s bunk, but his concentration was on his pilot, not his son. “Go on,” he said, perching on the console.



Freya looked up from where she was straightening the covers after Mal’s ‘rest’. “What is it, Ethan?”

Her son climbed carefully down the ladder, his attention as always on what he was doing. He had a single-mindedness she recognised as being pure Mal, determined on one thing sometimes to the detriment of his personal safety, but at least was coming to realise it. So as much as he wanted to hurry down the ladder to talk to his mother, he knew one false step could mean bruises, or worse, so he took it slowly.

Freya tried not to smile.

“Mama …” He’d reached the floor and now looked up at her.


“Did you talk to Daddy?”

“What about?” She went down onto her heels, pushing his bangs from his face and making a mental note to trim them when he had his bath.

“My room.” He glanced towards the nursery, a look on his face that was also Mal to a ‘T’.

“Why didn’t you talk to him about it?” she asked.

His nose screwed up. “Daddy’s talking to Uncle Hank on the bridge.”

“I'm sure they wouldn’t mind you interrupting.”

“Not on the bridge.” It was as if she’d suggested he put Maoli out of the airlock.

She had to drop her head before she could regain control of her face. To cover it, she brushed non-existent dirt off his shoes. “Well, as it happens, I did.” She looked up.


“Which room do you want?”

His face slipped from the serious, Mal-like solemnity, into joy. “Daddy said yes?”

“He said yes.”

Ethan threw his arms around his mother’s neck, taking them both to the floor. “Mama …”

She laughed, rubbing his back. “So which room do you want? The one next to Bethie?”

The faint disgust reappeared. “No. Other bit.”

She knew what he meant. He wanted to be in the other section of crew quarters, away from the Tams, somewhere different, somewhere special. “Hmmn, I think maybe I agree.” She scooted back so she was against the curved bulkhead, supporting him as he lay against her chest. “When the new baby comes, it’s going to be pretty noisy around there.”

“Crying,” he said quietly, enjoying their closeness. “And pooping.”

Freya chuckled. “True. But I don’t think any of us are going to be able to get away from that.”

“Did I poop a lot?” he asked, looking up into her face.

She tweaked his nose and made him giggle. “You did. But your father forgave you.”

He grinned and snuggled back down. “Of course he did,” he whispered firmly.

“You sure you’ll be okay on your own?” she asked, stroking his back. “I mean, it’s a fair distance. A couple of staircases … you won’t be able to come in with us quite so easily if you have nightmares.”

He stopped moving. “You won’t let me?”

“I didn’t say that.” She lifted his chin so she could look into those familiar blue eyes. “It’s just that we’ll be a bit more than a door away.”

“But I can come in if I need to?”

She smiled tenderly. “Of course you can.”

He heaved a sigh of relief. “Good.” After a moment he added, “And won’t have nightmares anyway.”

“That’s good.” She gazed at the nursery, soon only to be occupied by her little girl. “What about Jesse, though? Don’t you think she’ll get lonely?”

He thought for a long while, then shrugged as much as he could in her embrace. “Has you and Daddy. Right here. Only a door away.”

“That’s true.”

“And we’ll still play,” he went on. “I can come to tea.”

Now Freya laughed. “That sounds like an idea.”

A look of mischievousness crossed his face, this time one she knew from the mirror. “Bethie’s gonna be jealous.”

“Why? She has her own room.”

“Next to Auntie Kaylee and Uncle Simon.” He snickered.

“And you won’t be lording it over her, will you?” It wasn’t so much a question as an order.

“No, Mama.”

Yeah, right, she thought. “So. Your Daddy and your Uncle Hank are on the bridge. Where’s everyone else?”

He thought for a moment, and she was surprised to see he appeared to be unfocused, like she was when she –

“Auntie Zoe’s looking after Cal, Uncle Simon’s cooking, Auntie Kaylee’s in the engine room doing something, Auntie River and Uncle Jayne are in the shuttle being …” His little nose creased up, just like Bethie’s did when she found people doing squicky things.

She put her fingers on the back of his hand. “Ethan. You can feel them?”

He nodded, then looked up into her eyes. “Mama, why does that scare you?”

“Not scared. Just … concerned. I just don’t want you telling anyone off-ship, dong mah? This is our secret.” She mentally pressed at his walls, but they seemed as tight as ever. She’d always hoped he’d grow out of it, but now … No. Don’t think like that, she told herself. If that’s what happens, we’ll deal. Like we always have.

“Mama?” He could tell, obviously. “Did I do wrong?”

Appalled that she might have made him uncomfortable in the least, she gathered him to her. “No, no, Ethan. It’s okay.” She smiled for him. “Remind me and we’ll play some games later, see how far this goes. But no peeking.”

“Okay, Mama.”

“In fact, don’t let’s tell your father at all. We’ll surprise him.”

“Okay.” He snuggled back down, but she could tell he wasn’t too sure about this. Then again, neither was she.

For a moment they were quiet, then … “Ethan, will you promise me something?”

He lifted his head again. “Mama?”

“When you’re all grown up and as tall as your dad, will you still let me do this?” She indicated what she meant by holding him even closer and stroking his hair.

An expression of confusion crossed his little face. “Why wouldn’t I?”

“Because you’d be all grown up and as tall as your dad.”

“That’d be silly,” he stated. “Never gonna want to stop doing this.” He wrapped his arms tighter, his fingers tangled in her shirt as always. “Promise.”

“That’s my good boy.” She smiled, if a trifle sadly, and rested her chin on the top of his head.

“Ethan?” This was Jesse, leaning down through the hatch.

The little boy sighed, but said, “Come on, then.”

His sister hurried down the ladder, almost falling down the last couple of steps. She grinned widely and ran across the cabin, throwing herself on top of her mother and brother, and they all ended up in a rough and tumble, even as Freya wondered how she was going to tell Mal.


Simon stood back, satisfied. Supper was almost ready. Just another half an hour, and everyone would be gathered in the warm dining area, voices talking over each other, sitting down to a decent meal. There had been times in the intervening years since he’d come on board when the most they could look forward to was protein, in all its many and varied blandness, but since there had been children Mal had made it a point to get fresh food as often as possible. It might cost more than the pre-packaged mulch, but he didn’t need to be told that growing bones needed the real thing, even if it meant maybe not buying something else. Simon knew there had been times when Mal went without, the others too, just so their children would be okay.

He sniffed appreciatively. It might be all his own work, but it smelled good, and that was half the battle. He remembered reading something once about some of the food chains pumping the scent of fresh bread into their markets to try and entice people to buy, and then Professor Ratzen’s discourse on a similar topic.

Simon could still hear his accented voice now.

“Of course,” the man had said, leaning on the lectern and staring myopically at his audience, “everyone knows how a smell can evoke a specific reaction. I myself need only to get the hint of fresh cut grass in my nose and I am back in my school room, waiting for the class to be over so I can get outside and play. And who amongst you has not stopped to sniff the air after a pretty woman has passed by, wearing a certain perfume? All of you, that’s who. Even the women.” He’d laughed at his own feeble joke. “It is because the nasal receptors are hot-wired directly into the emotional centres of the brain, evoking memories more clearly than anything else, even pictures.”

“Why is that, Professor?” Madeleine Carney had asked, her red hair in a tight bun that every single male student wanted to let loose, to feel her silken tresses slide through their fingers, to bury their faces in and take a huge breath. “And what about bad smells? Things we think are horrible?”

Ratzen had looked at her and smiled. “Ms Carney, I didn’t say that the emotions are necessarily good. We have inbuilt reactions to certain smells because their causes might hurt us, or kill us. I am merely pointing out that they are powerful.”

He’d been right, of course. For days after Simon had gone around making notes of what he found attractive, or not, and so often there was a scent attached.

And at the moment, for some reason he wanted to smell a hot engine. Grinning, he left the food to its own devices and went to find his wife.

Which almost gave him a heart attack.

She was lying on the floor of the engine room, her hands by her sides, her eyes closed.

“Kaylee!” he yelled, going down onto his knees next to her, ignoring whatever it was that ripped at his pants and stabbed him in the calf. He put his hand to her neck. “Kaylee, can you hear me?”

She opened her eyes, and he felt his heart start beating again. “Simon, a’course I can hear you.”

“Don’t move. What happened? Did you fall? Were you dizzy? Is it the baby? Is the baby coming? Do you hurt –”

She lifted her hand and put her fingers on his lips, stopping him. “I'm shiny. And I didn’t fall. I'm okay.”

He thanked Buddha silently, then said, “Come on. Can you stand up?”


Getting his hands under her armpits he helped her to her feet, not letting her go until she was sitting on the hammock. “You’re bleeding, though,” she pointed out.

He glanced down, seeing the fabric around the tear in his pants turning red. “I … I caught it on something.”

“That’ll happen, you running into an engine room like that.”

“I thought you were hurt!”

“I know.” She couldn’t help the little self-satisfied smirk.

“I mean it, I thought you were really hurt.”

The smirk faded, and she looked slightly ashamed. “I know. I’m sorry.”

“But are you sure you’re okay?”

“Honestly, I’m fine.”

He glanced down at where she’d been lying. “Then what …?”

“I was practicing.”

“What? Making me old before my time?”

“No.” She swatted him on the arm. “Those breathing exercises ‘Nara showed me. For when our son decides to put in an appearance.” She stroked her belly.

“And you had to do it here? Now?”

“It was quiet, and everyone else was busy, and … why not?”

He opened his mouth to argue, to present every single flaw in her logic, but looked into her eyes instead. “Kaylee …” He sat down next to her, the hammock beginning to swing gently.

“No-one was supposed to see,” she explained. “In case I looked crazy or something.”

“Crazy. Right.” He shook his head.

“It’s just something Companions are taught. Inara calls it ‘the breath of light’.” She giggled. “She does it in that sitting where you cross your legs at a funny angle, but I ain't exactly able to get in that position right now.”

“The lotus,” Simon supplied.

“That’s it.” She seemed surprised. “How do you know that?”

“I studied meditation techniques in MedAcad. The lotus is … well, traditional.”

“I watched Inara, and I have to say I wondered how she was gonna get unlocked from it again, but she did. And she looked all kinds of elegant sitting there, just breathing.”

“She thought it might help during labour?”

Kaylee grinned at him. “That’s right! She figured if I practised enough maybe I’d be able to take myself out of myself if I wanted … you know, just be an observer, not feeling any pain.”

“Do you want that?” They’d talked about the different kinds of birth options available several times, but Kaylee had never really come down in favour of one or another.

She thought for a moment. “You know, not really. This baby is such a miracle,” she looked down at the swell at her waist, “I don’t wanna miss a minute.”

“I think labour’s going to last a bit longer than a minute.”

She elbowed him lightly. “I know that.”

The other thing they’d never really sorted was the issue of her previous Caesarean. “Kaylee …” Simon began, but didn’t really know how to broach the subject. This wasn’t just a patient – this was his wife.

“Simon.” She knew what he was trying to say. “I don’t want to be cut open again. But if it has to go that way, then I ain’t gonna stop you. Only if it has to, mind.”

He felt something lift from his shoulders that he hadn’t realised was there. It certainly wasn't the case that one Caesarean meant any subsequent babies had to be born the same way, but out here, in the border worlds, he didn’t want to have that happen and have Kaylee fighting him all the way. “Thank you.”

“Nothing to thank me for. You’re the doctor.”

“Thanks anyway.” He leaned against her and grinned. “Is this was that breathing technique does? Makes you all compliant?”

“No.” She reached up and kissed him on the cheek. “But maybe it helps me see things a bit clearer.”

“You are wonderful.”

She blushed. “You’re just saying that ‘cause you had your wicked way with me.”

“Actually I think it was the other way around.”

“Prob’ly.” She chuckled. “So, ‘Nara asked you yet?”

“About what?”

“Why she ain’t pregnant?”

Simon stared at her. “How did …?”

Kaylee grinned. “You ain't the only one knows stuff. Me and Inara, we talk regularly, and she tells me things she wouldn’t tell anyone else. Not even the Cap.”

“And she told you she was worried.”

“No. I guessed that. And you just confirmed it.”


“Aw, she wouldn’t mind. We’re friends.” Kaylee swung her legs a little, seeing her feet in their sandals appear every so often, and idly noted her toenails needed painting. Perhaps she’d get Simon to do it later. “So I was thinking perhaps she wanted you to see if there was something they could do. I mean, the Companion birth control stuff must be out of her system by now, so maybe it caused something else. Something you could perhaps help with?”

Simon could only gape at her. Sometimes her insight surprised him so much he was struck speechless, and this was such a time. “I … well, actually …”

Kaylee sighed happily, enjoying being proved right. “That’s what I thought.”

Her husband dragged himself back together. “As it happens, yes, she spoke to me before we left Lazarus. I took some blood and said I’d do some tests.”

“What did you find out?”


“You mean you didn’t find nothing?”

“No, I mean I'm not going to tell you. This is between me and Inara.”

“You know she’ll tell me if I ask her.”

“Then you’ll just have to ask her.” He put up his hand to forestall her arguing. “Kaylee, bao bei, I know you have this insatiable curiosity to know what’s going on in everyone’s life, to make things work better, to … to interfere.” He looked at her from under his eyebrows, and he knew she understood by the way she wouldn’t meet his eyes. “But not this time. If Inara wants to tell you, then she will. Other than that, you’re not going to get me to.”

“I could withhold sexual favours,” Kaylee threatened. “Like those Sabine women.”

For a moment Simon regretted lending her the book on Earth-that-was mythology, and wondered whether to correct her, tell her she'd meant Lysistrata, then he just smiled. “Kaylee, you know that won’t work.”

“I ain't Frey,” she said stubbornly. “Just ‘cause she couldn’t keep her hands off the Cap …”

“Fine.” He made his face look entirely uninterested. “I can practise restraint.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“Try me.”

They stared at each other, neither wanting to be the one to look away first.

Then Mal’s voice reverberated along the corridor. “Doc!” He did not sound happy. “Whatever you’re doing with my mechanic, stop it. Somethin’s burning!”

“Oh, diyu,” Simon said, scrambling to his feet and running out of the engine room back towards the kitchen.

“Um, Simon?” Kaylee called, swinging backwards and forwards, suddenly wondering if she was going to be able to get out of the hammock unaided. “Help?”

to be continued


Wednesday, June 17, 2009 4:20 AM


The pooping lines were so funny...and I liked Simon and his love of the smell of a hot engine. It is true that scents remind you of things. Very cool!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 11:19 AM


Not sure Frey should tell Ethan to keep it secret from Mal that he can pick up things from the others like she can. Secrets like that can rebound with unfunny consequences. Poor Simon, his cooking was going so well but then he had to get himself sidetracked. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 3:10 PM


This was such a nice picture of everyday life on Serenity, makes me wish it could go on forever. Sigh. Loving this chapter and looking forward to more.

Thursday, June 18, 2009 12:45 PM


Ah, peaceful && fluffy. Gotta love that. I wonder how Kaylee's gonna get out of that hammock tho ...

Thursday, June 18, 2009 6:55 PM


Beautifully done. And I'm interrested to know why Ianra's not pregnant too, come to think of it.... :)


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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!]

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!]