Jericho Wells - Part XV
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. Freya decides to tell Mal about Ethan, and the campaigning starts in earnest. NEW CHAPTER (sorry for the delay - it took me a long while before I was happy with it!)


Supper was done, and everyone apart from Mal complimented Simon on the smoky flavour of the meat-substitute protein, Jayne going so far as to state that it tasted almost as good as the joints his Ma used to cook over an open fire when his dad had been hunting. The doctor blushed slightly, deflecting their praise and wondering if the Captain was going to rat him out, but Mal just sat at the head of the table, his steady gaze on the young man, Freya’s hand over his. Maybe his lips were twitching just a bit, but that might have been an optical illusion. Or guilt.

Immediately he’d finished Ethan asked for and got permission to head to his new room, where his clothes and boxes of toys already resided. He knew it was going to feel odd, not having his parents next door, but he was looking forward to it. To being a big boy.

“S’just a room,” Bethie said dismissively, standing in the open doorway in her little nightdress, her hands clasped tightly behind her back.

S’my room.” Before supper Ethan had watched Maoli investigate every corner, her nose close to the bulkhead, the bed, soft pink pads barely disarranging the covers. Then she’d leapt onto the heating duct above his pillow and settled down, her tail twitching over the edge. Now she looked down at them, her green eyes shining in the low light.

“Had my room for years.” She sniffed loudly. “Years and years and years and years.”

“I know.” He arranged the knitted alligator at the end of the bed, then turned and looked at her.

“Years,” she added, just so he got the message.

“I know.” He glanced around. “Mama said I could have it decorated how I wanted. I was ‘sidering dinosaurs. What do you think?”

“Uncle Mal won’t let you paint on the walls.”

“My Daddy will.” He half-closed one eye. “Or maybe pirates.”

Bethie bridled. “Pirates …” She could hardly breathe for the indignation bubbling in her little chest.

“Might do.” He grinned. “And I’m going to bed now. In my room.” With a smirk that made him look more like his father than ever, he slid the door closed in her face.

She glared, huffed twice, then said, loudly enough so that he could hear every syllable, “We’re gonna play ‘lections tomorrow, Ethan. Then you just see.” She stamped off to bed.


Freya finished tidying the kitchen, then took the long route back to her and Mal’s bunk, going via the lower crew quarters. It wasn’t that she was worried about Ethan. No, it wasn't that at all. But she just wanted to look in, make sure he was all right, that the bed bugs hadn’t got him, that …

Mal was standing in the area outside, the doorway cracked just a little, looking in.

“And I thought I was the sentimental one,” Freya said, coming up behind him and resting her cheek against his shoulder.

“He’s asleep.” Mal moved enough so that she could see.

Ethan was rolled into the covers, Maoli having deigned to join him, curled up on the pillow like a grey mist.

“Mal …” She stopped.

“What?” When she didn’t answer he turned to look at her. “Frey?”

“I …” She shook her head. “No. Nothing.”

“If there’s something –”

“No. I … I'm just going to miss him.”

He smiled, his finger tracing her jawline. “Frey, honey, he’s barely a minute away. It ain't like we’re on a cruise liner, when it takes half the day to get from one end to the other. And he’s got Simon and Kaylee just the other side.”

“I know.”

“’Sides, you never know, he might hate it and want to come back.”

“I doubt that.”

He pulled her into his arms. “Frey, I know what this is all about. But he’s not grown yet. There’s gonna be plenty of times when he comes running to his Mama for a hug, to dry his tears and have his skinned knee kissed better. Hell, I do that, and I'm just a tad older’n him.” When she laughed slightly, he squeezed her. “He’s barely out of diapers, Frey. I think it’s gonna be a while ‘fore he announces he’s getting wed.”

“I don’t know. There are some places I've been when boys get married at twelve.”

“Well more fool them. Personally I find it takes a lot longer, and a man being so stupid he can’t see what he’s got right in front of him, before that happens.” He slid the door closed. “Come on. I’ve got a yearning for my own bed.”

Her lips curved. “You’re that tired?”

“Well, all this fresh air.” Mal dipped his head a little. “Not used to it. Tires a man out.”


“Not that I’ve got anything against the recycled stuff,” he added quickly. “Only once it’s been around Jayne’s lungs a few thousand times, it does kinda get a slight aftertaste to it.”

She laughed as he kissed her.

And now Mal was dozing, rolled onto his chest, something he could only do because as soon as they’d got together Freya had insisted they widen the bed. Otherwise he’d have been on the floor long since.





“You’re not.”

“Am.” He turned his head towards her, trying to focus.

They’d made love, Mal having decided he wasn't as tired as all that, but he’d still got the impression her mind was maybe somewhere else. It didn’t make it any less passionate, or satisfying, but he wondered vaguely what it was that had occupied her mind. He had the feeling he was about to find out.

“Mal, I …”

He looked at her, biting her lip like Jesse did when she’d done something wrong and didn’t want to admit to it.

“Are you gonna confess somethin’?” He levered himself onto his elbow. “Don’t tell me. You’re gonna run away with Jayne and join the circus. He’s gonna be the strong man, and you’re gonna get something from Simon and be the bearded lady.” For once she didn’t laugh, and that made a wave of uncomfortableness wash through him. “You’re not, are you? Gonna run away?”

“No. But …” She berated herself for not even being able to finish a single sentence.

“I hate those. The ‘buts’ that hang around. They make me all kinds of nervous,” he pointed out.

“It’s … about Ethan.”

He grinned, relaxing. “I knew you were missing him already.”

“He knew where you all were.”

“What are you …” Realisation hit him, and he sat up, the blanket falling from him. “He knew?”

Freya nodded unhappily. “Before supper. I’d just told him he could have a room to himself, and I asked if he knew where everyone was. Mal, he knew Jayne and River were in the shuttle making love.”

“That’s … poor kid. Having to see that, even at a distance. Seen it myself once too often. Thought I’d go blind.”

She knew he didn’t really mean the words he was saying, that his mouth was working on automatic while his brain processed what she’d just told him. “I know,” she murmured.

“How much?” he asked finally. “Just knowing, or … like you?”

“I don’t know,” she had to admit. “It was a shock, Mal. I didn’t have time to do much more than … I don’t know.”

He could see the pain and fear in her face, and pulled her towards him, cradling her in his arms. “It’s okay, Frey. It’s okay.”

“I wanted him to grow out of it,” she said so quietly he could hardly tell she was speaking, except for her breath on his naked chest. “To not have to go through … any of it.”

Xin gan, you said yourself, you don’t know the extent yet. Permaybehaps he’s able to know where we are, what we’re doing, and it’s just an extension of that empathy thing, but that might be it. He ain't shown a sign of being able to Read folks, has he? Their specific thoughts, I mean, not just the fact that we’re not using words.”

“Well …”

“And I’m pretty sure he’d’ve said. And shown it too, considering sometimes how he and Bethie argue.”

She had to chuckle. “That they do.”

“So … what? It kinda creeped up on him gradually?”

“I think it must have.” She laid her hand gently on the still raised scar in the centre of his chest, the gold cross she’d given him just above, connecting directly to his heart. “I can’t have anything happen to him too, Mal.”

He didn’t have to be psychic to know what was going through her head as she trembled against him, but he wished he was. He wanted to be able to go into her thoughts and kill the bastards that had hurt her, had stolen her childhood and given nothing back but pain and insanity. Maybe one day he’d find them, the ones who ordered kids to be hurt like that, who were still ordering it done to people like River, and Mara Tam, to do what he dreamed of in the middle of the night, with patience and great joy. But right now she needed him to be strong for her.

“It won’t.” He stroked her back, his hand pressing firmly onto her tattoo. It always calmed her, no matter what had gone before, and it was having the same effect now. A light touch and it was more arousing, particularly on the centre sigil, the one that stood for passion, but this, a constant pressure, soothed her mind. “Ain't gonna happen, Frey,” he whispered. “Ethan, Jesse if it turns out that way … hell, any other kids we have in the process … those hwoon dahn won’t have them. Serenity’d run red with blood ‘fore I let that happen.”

Her breathing had eased, and he laid down, holding her to him.

“You keep us all safe, don’t you?” she murmured, her eyes closing.

“I try, Frey.” He continued to stroke her tattoo, feeling the tension leave her body like a physical presence being exorcised.

“You do it really well.” She yawned. “I'm so proud of you.”

He smiled. “Really?”

“Really. Maybe I don’t say it enough, and I should say it more.” She rubbed her nose with the back of her hand. “I love you, and I'm proud of you.”

“Hell, Frey, I'm more proud of you.”

“No. I’m prouderer.”

“Is that a word?”

“Don’t care.” She breathed out, making the few odd hairs on his chest move as his skin tingled.

“And don’t be worrying about Ethan, either. We’re not going anywhere, and once we figure out what he can do, we’ll be fine.” He squeezed her shoulder. “I mean, River ain’t said anything, has she?” He waited. “Frey?”

He looked down, then smiled again. She was asleep, mouth slightly open. He knew that meant he’d have a damp patch in a while, but it didn’t matter. Sleep was by far the best thing for her, seeing as she worried about her children more than she worried about him. Well, almost. And he hadn’t been lying. His family was the most important thing to him, and always would be.


Next morning everyone was up early, ready to greet the day and see what happened when they shook Jericho Wells enough to make it squeak.

Not that everyone was particularly happy. Jayne had complained loudly about being worked like a packhorse as they loaded him down with so much equipment until he could hardly move.

“You trying to kill me or something?” he asked, nursing a toe where something had dropped on it. “I'm thinking I should change my name to Dobbin or some such.”

“Maybe I did overdo it a bit,” Kaylee admitted. “But if we’re gonna do something, we’re gonna do it right.”

“Yeah, but do we really need all this gos se?”

Mal held up a hand to forestall any more comments as he saw Kaylee’s hackles go up. “Fine. Zoe, prep the mule.”

“Yes sir.”

The old vehicle trundled comfortingly out into the morning light, Zoe in the driver’s seat, a slight smile on her face as she remembered how much Wash had loved that ATV, even insisting they recover it after it took part in the attack on Niska’s skyplex, so very long ago. Kaylee, by dint of being pregnant, rode shotgun, and heard her sigh, but didn’t say anything. She was thinking about the blond pilot too, and the scrapes they’d got into, and how she was sure he was stilling looking out for them. She grinned.

“You ready?” Jayne asked Hank, watching the mule puffing up dust around its wide wheels as it headed for the town.

“As I’ll ever be.”

“Bet you ten I get there first.”

“I don’t bet anymore, Jayne, you know that.”

The big man grinned, and slapped Hank on the shoulder. “Just checking.”

They jogged down the ramp, Hank wondering when he was likely to get the feeling back in his arm.

Of all the crew, only River and Simon were staying behind, the latter to keep an eye on the children, the former to ostensibly work on her plan, although in truth she knew exactly who was going to do what and when. The planning was all down to getting Mal to accept it.

The man in question was strolling towards the town square with his wife on his arm, taking delight as always in just being a couple for a while.

He glanced at her, at the light waist-length jacket she’d put on over her normal shirt. “Cold?” he asked.

“No,” she admitted. “But it hides the shoulder holster.” She touched where the leather sat snugly under her arm.

“Seems like I ain’t the only one thinks it’s better to be safe than sorry.” He might not have named his own weapons, but the small pistol lying against his skin under his shirt certainly gave him a feeling of security.

“And I thought I was the one who used sayings like that.”

He chuckled. “See what being married to you does? Amazingly corrupting.” He was glad to see her smile. “So, you feeling okay now?”

She didn’t have to ask about what. “I’m shiny, Mal.” At his look she amended quickly, “Better. Better than I was.”

“Well, a good night’s sleep will do that for you.”

Freya nodded. “I realised there’s no point in worrying about something until it happens. And maybe his … his talents won’t develop any more.” Even outside, away from prying ears, she was still circumspect.

Mal understood completely. “Permaybehaps you’re right. Is that what happened with you? Develop over the years?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t remember. And anyway I wasn’t fully formed, so to speak. Not like … others.”

Like Bethie, she meant.

He tightened his arm a little, pulling her into his side. “Then we’ll wait and see. And no matter what, we’ll love him. He’s our son.” He kissed her, only breaking from her lips when he heard someone tutting as they went past, and he saw a steel-grey bun with an elderly woman attached to it shaking her head at them.

“You’re likely to get us bound if you keep doing that,” Freya breathed, but didn’t seem too worried.

“For kissing my wife?” Mal grinned. “Worth every day in jail.”

“You just remember that when you’re breaking rocks.” She urged him forwards. “Anyway, I’m more concerned with what Bethie’s up to.”

“Why, what’s that little girl got up her sleeve?”

“She’s attempting to consolidate her power base.”


“She’s holding an election.”

Mal couldn’t help but smile. “And Ethan’s letting her?”

“He’s being a gentleman. For the moment.”

“So what’s it all in aid of? I mean, she tells them what to do anyway.”

“She wants to make it official.”

For a moment Mal entertained the image of Bethie on a podium, haranguing a crowd of people, and wasn’t surprised to realise he could imagine it very well. “Ah. There likely to be blood?”

“I think maybe one of us should have a talk with her before there is.”

“By one of us I’m venturing that you’re suggesting me.”

“Thanks for volunteering.”

“Frey, I don’t volunteer for anything. I kinda learned my lesson about that a long time ago.”

“But you will, won’t you?”

“Why can’t you?”

“Because, my darling Mal, as you’ve so often said, it’s your boat. You’re Captain. And I think Bethie’s going to listen to you much more readily than to anyone else.”

“Frey …”

She patted his hand as they turned into the large square. “You’ll do fine,” she assured him.

“How come when people say that, I tend to end up shot?”

She didn’t answer, just stared ahead.

Mal turned to where she was looking, for a moment not seeing anything beyond the small park at one end, the fancy shops and restaurants with their chairs out ready to catch the lunchtime trade, the Election offices dwarfing the other buildings and casting a shadow across the plaza …

And to where Jayne was having a heated argument with a man Mal recognised with a sinking heart as being the Election official, one Thomas Adonais Cromwell.

to be continued


Tuesday, June 23, 2009 6:21 AM


I loved the scene with Bethie and Ethan, though Bethie is sure a spit fire when it comes right down to it. Not sure anyone wants to cross that girl twice.

“How come when people say that, I tend to end up shot?”

Loved this line best though!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 9:43 AM


Uh oh, back to trouble. This isn't going to end in bloodshed like Bethie's 'lections, is it? Loved the Ethan/Bethie games - so like kids. And some kids never grow up!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 10:53 AM


I agree with Angellemarcs, that ending up shot bit was the best line!! XD && uhoh about Bethie, I get this feeling that she won't stop until she's controlling *everything* ...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 12:26 PM


I loved the Maya banter and Ethan getting his own room. Ooh, bossy boots Bethie doesn't like that. I hope she isn't going to turn into a mini tyrant. And Jayne at the end - uh oh, that spells trouble. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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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.]

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“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!]

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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!]

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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!]