Jericho Wells - Part XXI
Sunday, July 26, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. Finally we hear what Zoe has to say, and River finishes her part. NEW CHAPTER (and I hope it was worth the wait!)


As Cromwell announced her, Zoe stood up and walked to the front of the stage, her head held high, making sure the light caught the swelling still closing her eye, the cut, the bruises.

She could hear a vague uneasiness in the audience about her clothing, but more than one woman was looking her up and down in a speculative way, perhaps thinking that pants might be more comfortable, and a lot more practical.

She waited, letting everyone get a good look, taking so long she could see Cromwell starting to get nervous.

Finally she spoke, her voice filling the large hall without even needing to be raised.

“Seen enough?” she asked. “And before you judge, it wasn’t my husband. If it was he wouldn’t be my husband any more. But the men who did it … they’re not important. They’re less than nothing. It doesn’t matter who did this, what their motives were, whether they were paid or not. It doesn’t even matter that it was me who got stopped last night, threatened, beaten on. No-one should be treated like this. Male, female, child, adult … no-one has the right to deal this way with another human being just because they don’t agree with them, or because they’re stronger, or cleverer, or because it’s the way things have always been done, here on Jericho.”

Zoe took a breath, letting her words sink in. “That’s pretty much why I stood for women’s rights campaigner. In fact, it shouldn’t be called that at all. It should be campaigner for human rights. Because you need that. Someone to stand up and be counted, to say what some of you are probably thinking, but are too afraid to voice. To avow and declare that everyone has the right to live their life under nobody’s heel, to be able to complain when something is wrong without fear, without having to look over their shoulder so often that it becomes a habit, until it’s so ingrained that the whole gorram planet acts the same.”

She could see Hank at the back of the hall, nodding encouragingly, the others next to him, Kaylee beaming so hard that she seemed to be glowing, and Mal with a look of pride on his face that she’d rarely seen outside his relationship with Freya. It warmed her through as she carried on speaking.

“I fought a war. Everyone knows that. Was on the losing side too. And believe me, if I could go back and make it that we won, I would. But we didn’t. And that ain’t gonna change. Now, I know you didn’t support the Independent cause. It’s been made more than clear to me. Except you above so many other places needed it. We were fighting against oppression, against one group of people half the ‘verse away having the right to tell us what to do, how to live, how to think. Yet here you are, doing exactly that right here on Jericho. Whether it be keeping your womenfolk tied to the bedroom, the kitchen, or going further and making sure if they even put one foot out of line they end up tossed down the stairs.”

She shook her head. “And the worse thing is that it isn’t all of you. Just a few, making life harder than it needs. And if they carry on, if someone doesn’t stand up for what’s right, for what’s fair … well, that little step Mercy Fischer talked about isn’t going to get taken. And without it, you’re going to stagnate, and in the end not even your abundant water supply is going to encourage new folk to come here, and you’ll be left behind. So even if you don’t vote for me, at least think on what I’ve said. And think on this too. A ballot’s secret. No-one knows who you put your cross against. Go with your heart.”

She didn’t wait to see the reaction, just turned on her booted heel and walked back to her seat.

Someone started clapping at the back of the hall, joined by three or so others, then Mercy began, her hands flapping against each other so fast and so hard they were like a blur, then Sarah Cordell, somewhat slower and more grudgingly, but with a look almost like respect on her face.

Then the whole room erupted, and the Cortex crews were hard pressed to keep a view on the stage as most everyone stood up, men and women alike, only a handful sitting with their arms crossed, incensed belligerence exuding from every pore. Pretty much like Bea Jarvis and Polly Adams were doing.

“Do you think she went too far?” Hank asked, still clapping madly.

Freya shook her head, a wide smile on her face. “No. Far enough, maybe, and pushing the edge. But if they don’t like her they’ll vote for Mercy.”

Cromwell was calling for order, trying to get everyone back in their seats, but nobody was listening. Even once the applause had died down people were congregating in groups and talking, perhaps for the first time in years, and he was ignored. In the end he gave up and strode angrily off the stage, letting them get on with it.


In the Election offices, River paused as she input the long sequence of code into the computer, having memorised them easily so that, if she did get caught, she wouldn’t be found with a datatab on her containing anything incriminating.

Not that anybody was going to catch her, of course. The guard downstairs was in fact outside enjoying an illicit cigarette and a pull from his hip flask, and the next nearest person was a hundred yards away, passing in front of the building.

With one part of her mind she kept track of that man, the guard, the people in the cafe further down the plaza, while another was listening to what was happening in the Town Hall through her husband’s eyes. She had to smile as Zoe’s speech was flavoured with Jayne’s respect, and just a taste of the affection he held the first mate in, even though it would take having his limbs forcibly removed to make him even think to begin to admit it. Still, as much fun as this was, she had her own job to complete, and with just a few more things to do she’d be able to go home.


“It ain't gonna last, is it?” Mal said, as quietly as he could so that nobody else could overhear.

“It might.” Freya looked into his face and shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s hard to fight something that’s been going on for years. You know that.”

“Conjure maybe I do.” He glanced down at his hands, red and stinging from clapping so hard. “But like River said, a single snowflake …”

“A solitary stone. Or a small step,” Freya finished. “I know. And it might work.”

“Want to hang around and find out?” he asked, slipping his arm around her waist.

“No. Home’s out there.” She nodded up towards the sky. “Footloose and fancy free. Not tied to the ground.”

“And people wonder why I married you.”

“Because I couldn’t take any more of the begging.”

“Is that right?”

“It is.”

He grinned at her, then dropped a kiss on her nose. “Think maybe we’d better collect our candidate and head on home, don’t you think? What with our busy day tomorrow, and all.”

“What about Mercy?” Jayne asked, materialising next to them. “It ain’t like I think those fellers are gonna make more trouble, but there’s Bea Jarvis to consider.”

“I don’t think you need to worry about that,” Freya said, smiling at him. “I’m pretty sure Zoe had a word.”

“A word, huh?” He grinned. “That Bea didn’t look like she was mangled.”

“Oddly enough, Jayne, some people do actually talk to other folk without benefit of fists.”

“No. Really?” He did a creditable impression of being surprised.


He chortled, but was serious again in a second. “Still, I don’t much like the idea of her being on her own, least ‘til she gets home.”

Freya glanced at Mal, who shrugged, then towards the stage, where a number of the audience had climbed up to talk to one candidate in particular. Her smile widened. “I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that,” she said.

“Huh?” The big man turned. “Who the hell’s that?” he asked, glaring at the young man playing guard to Mercy, his hand somewhat protectively on her arm.

“His name’s Dean,” Zoe said, pressing through the last of the crowd to join them.

“Do I recognise him?” Mal wanted to know, peering through the bodies, managing to catch a glimpse every now and then of dark, almost black hair, not too bad looking, and fairly well made.

“He’s a waiter at one of the cafe’s in the plaza," she explained. “I get the feeling he wants to get to know Mercy better.”

“Ain’t all he looks like wanting,” Jayne growled.

“He looks kinda nice,” Kaylee, ever the optimist, said.

The big man wasn’t placated. “If’n he tries anything he shouldn’t –”

“Down, Jayne,” Freya murmured. “Mercy’s quite happy to be with him, so there’s no need for you to make a fuss.”

No need. The words echoed in his mind, from someone not in the room, someone even now standing on the edge of the roof of the Election offices, looking out across Jericho Wells, at all the lights holding back the night and blocking out her beloved stars.

You sure, moonbrain? he asked, seeing Freya’s indulgent smile and knowing River was letting her pick up on the conversation as well.

I’m sure. He likes her and would never willingly hurt her.

Only if he did ...

She smiled, and he could feel it in his consciousness like a flame. My Jayne, she thought. You have changed.

No, I ain’t. Still the same bastard that tried to get rid of you that time back on Ariel..

Who loves me.

Yeah, well, that came later.

Protecting his crew.

Ain’t mine.

Always was.

River ... Jayne squirmed slightly as he always did when anyone, even his wife, mentioned that he might be getting softer in his old age.

She laughed, and even in his brain it was heavily laden with sexual promise. Not old.

Freya, following Mal out into the night, snorted back a laugh, then shook her head quickly when he looked at her askance.


River felt the slight breeze ruffle her hair, almost as if someone were stroking their hand through her tresses, and for a long moment closed her eyes to let herself believe it was her father giving her his benediction. But he was dead these past few months, buried next to Jethro, little Alice and the crew of Road Runner on Prometheus after saving Simon’s life.

Still, as she looked again at Jericho Wells she smiled and blew him a kiss, then another for luck before reattaching the second section of cable to her belt via various clips, then checking it wasn’t tangled at all before looping it around the Cortex array stanchion and tossing it from the building. One last visual check, her gloved left hand steadying the line above her, the other to act as break, and she stepped off the edge.

For a definable nanosecond of time she thought she just hung in the air, then gravity noticed its mistake and took over, and she slid down the cable, accelerating past the floors until the ground came up so fast it was sure she would smear herself over the stones ... except she tugged sharply on the line with her right hand and slowed her descent so dramatically her feet touched down with barely a flex of her knees.

Swiftly she pulled the cable, hearing it whistle as it rode over the stanchion and dropped towards her, slithering to a halt at her feet. She bent to gather it up but a voice spoke.

“You done?” he breathed in her ear, barely enunciating the words.

She felt Jayne’s arm wrap around her waist. “Done.”

“You ain’t surprised.”

“Felt you coming.”

His arm tightened. “Do you mind?”


“Just thought I’d see you home. Since there are some mean desperadoes out on the streets tonight.”

“Are there?”

“Well, there’s me for one. And I still aim to get you back for saying I’m getting soft.” His goatee scratched the back of her neck as he ran his lips over her skin, and she shivered.

“Make love to me under the stars.”

He laughed, barely a susurration of breath, but she felt it run up his chest through her back. “Always did take you like this,” he commented. “Any kinda action and you’d be hot after.”

She sighed and leaned against him and wriggled a little, eliciting a slight groan. “Not the only one.”

“One of these days you’re gonna wear me out, you know that, don’t you?” His hand wandered upwards from her waist.

“My big strong Jayne,” she whispered. “Never.”

“Not that I'm complaining, mind. Seems to me like I got the best end of the deal.” His voice had dropped in tone, becoming even more gravelly.

She smiled, pressing even harder into his body. “So?”



“Ain’t we likely to get bound?”

“No-one will catch us.”

“What about Mal? He’s gonna want to know if’n you did what you needed.”

“Frey’s told him.”

He nodded, not surprised that the other Reader had been keeping mental tabs on her. Bethie probably had been, too. He went back to a much more pleasurable subject. “Where?”

She glanced around, not really using her eyes at all. Then she pointed. “There.”

“What’s there?”

“A park. Deserted. Empty. Devoid of –”

“I get your drift.”

“No-one to hear you scream.”

He squeezed the flesh he found in his hand, making her take a sharp breath. “Don’t happen often, moonbrain.”

His second usage that night of the word that used to be an insult and was now the greatest term of endearment made her knees weak and her heart beat faster. “Intending to wake the neighbours.”

He grinned. “Race ya.”

She shimmied from his grasp and ran forward a few paces, her dark clothes and hair making her blend into the night until she turned, and the lamplight hit the planes of her face. “Catch me,” she murmured, before spinning on her heels and taking off.

Grabbing the coil of cable and tossing it over his shoulder, he was after her, determined to catch up to his bao bei and make her every wish come true.


Simon was once again waiting for them as they walked up the incline into the Firefly’s interior.

“Oh, honey,” Kaylee gushed, bouncing as much as a pregnant woman in her ninth month could. “You shoulda seen it.”

“I did,” her husband said, grinning at her. “Did you think I’d miss out?” Amongst all the other things I had to deal with tonight, he thought to himself but didn’t say. On my own. Like bleeding noses and daughters who cause them. “We all watched,” he added, “before I sent the children to bed.”

“And they went?” Mal asked, raising his eyebrows a little. “You’re gonna have to let me in on your secret.”

Simon more or less ignored him, looking at Zoe instead. “The Cortex reporters were surprisingly complimentary about you.”

The dark woman shook her head. “You must have misheard.”

“No, honestly.” Simon was most insistent. “At least one of them called you magnificent.”

“See?” Hank said, putting his arms around her and holding her tightly. “What I’ve been saying for years.”

“Surely seems like Mercy ain’t the only one with admirers,” Mal said, closing up, the ramp squealing just a little as it raised. “You’ll have to be careful, Hank, or someone might just come and steal her away from you.”

“Never,” the tousle-haired pilot said stoutly.

Simon stepped forward. “Wait. What about River? She’s not back yet.”

Mal didn’t quite smirk, but it was a close thing. “Oh, I got a notion that since Jayne snuck off a while back, they’re making their own entertainment. They can let themselves back in once they’re done.”

Simon couldn’t quite disguise the look of faint disgust. “Oh.”

Serenity’s captain clapped him on the shoulder. “Now you know how I felt when I found out you were sexing little Kaylee here. Although I think the inclination to shoot you might finally be wearing off.”

“I’m so glad.”

“Not so little no more, anyway,” the woman in question put in proudly, running her hands over her swollen stomach.

“And pregnant women need their sleep,” Simon said, pulling himself together. “What with tomorrow being another big day.”

“Think we’re gonna end up rich?” Hank asked.

“I doubt it,” Mal said. “Shouldn’t think a place like this keeps that much cashey money lying around, but we’ll see. Might be enough to swing an upgrade or two.”

“Ooh, really?” Kaylee’s eyes widened.


“’Cause I got a whole list of stuff needs replacing.”

“Kaylee, I said maybe.”

“Can I at least give it to you?”

She might be waddling, her belly coming into a room long before she did, but she could still do the puppy dog eyes, and she was using them full force at Mal.

He sighed. “Okay. Give me the list. But I ain't promising anything.”

Xie-xie, captain!” she said happily.

“But I reckon the doc’s right,” Mal went on. “An early night ain’t gonna do any of us harm.” He put his hand in the centre of Freya’s back, pressing her towards the stairs. “After you.”

“You know I really shouldn’t be letting you make me do anything, don’t you?” Freya said as she headed up the steps in front of him. “After the meeting we’ve just been to.”



“Huh?” He’d been distracted by her backside. “What was that?”

“Stop that.”


“I’m not a sex object.”

“So a man can’t anticipate seeing his wife getting naked?”

“Only if a wife can anticipate the same of her husband.”

“Oh, I think that can be arranged.” They disappeared through the top hatch, Mal’s voice adding as they turned the corner, “Last one up turns off the lights.”

to be continued


Sunday, July 26, 2009 6:10 AM


Glad Zoe gave the voters a piece of her mind and that it was well received. And the River/Jayne fluff, in their own unique way.

Sunday, July 26, 2009 10:03 AM


While I appreciate the bits of fluff you have provided for our delection, to me the following is the most important line in your tale:

“That’s pretty much why I stood for women’s rights campaigner. In fact, it shouldn’t be called that at all. It should be campaigner for human rights"

Well said, and not said enough.
Too much confusion nowdays around rights - in group rights - by sex, preference, race, ... the list grows, and confuses. There are human rights, goodd for all humans - or there aren't any. If we all can't claim it, no one can. For me, this story leads up to and culminates in this moment. I'm sure you planned it that way.

I don't know where people find the time, and the talent, to write this well for free. I hope you and other gifted amatuers will keep it coming. I hope we will hear from you again soon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009 10:43 AM


Wonderful job! Loved the words you used for Zoe - they were perfect and very well crafted. Kind of like the crew was meant to shake up complacent old Jericho anyways. Looking forward to more. Not that I don't love your cliffhangers - because you do them soooo well - but I'm glad this one is ending on a happy note.

Sunday, July 26, 2009 12:29 PM


Brava, Zoe! And brava to you as well, Jane! Very well done! :)

Sunday, July 26, 2009 10:49 PM


It was good to finally hear Zoe's speech and worth the wait. I did worry though with River wanting to make love to Jayne out in the open in the park after setting everything up. Jericho being Jericho they would probably both be thrown in goal for a very long time under some law or other. Let's hope they don't get caught. And Kaylee, she always could wrap her Captain round her little finger. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Monday, July 27, 2009 8:19 AM


Wonderful speech by Zoe. Well done. River and Jayne...well, hell, it's so like them. Who would expect anything different?! LOL!!


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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!]