A Perfect Day - Part VI
Saturday, August 22, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. The crew chat about nothing in particular as the day winds down. CONCLUDING CHAPTER (but you know there's more to come)


Some time after 11.00 pm …

A log broke open into a shower of sparks, dancing and twisting around each other as they sped up the chimney and out into the night.

Serenity’s crew were congregated in the kitchen at the Frye house, sitting on the various chairs, or the floor if that suited them.

The children had been put to bed in Ellie and Eddie’s room, all bundled up together under the heavy patchwork quilt, having each been assured that Kaylee was fine, and allowed to see the new arrival for just a few minutes. Most of them were sleeping, although Bethie was still awake, staring out of the window through a crack in the curtains at the hard pinpricks of stars, thinking about her new baby brother.

“Going to have such fun,” she whispered, feeling Hope shift slightly next to her but not wake up. “Such fun.” She smiled and closed her eyes.

Eddie had bunked in with Peter, while Ellie was dozing in the parlour, ostensibly keeping an eye on her daughter as she slept the exhaustion of the new mother, but really enjoying the peace and quiet, like the aftermath of a storm.

Simon sat in the corner of the kitchen by the fireplace, picking what turned out to be the most advantageous spot in the room where he could see everything and everyone. Not that he was listening to his friends talking, at least not with his conscious brain. That was reserved for the baby asleep in his arms.

David had been washed, then dressed in some of the tiny clothes Kaylee had bought at the Skyplex, including tiny booties that wouldn’t have gone on Jayne’s thumb. The dark blue blanket wrapped around him was from River, knitted with love over the past few months, and embroidered with giant sunflowers. Scattered amongst them were tiny daisies, done by the crew, and causing more than one incident of yelling and sucking on pricked fingers. A corner had been left untouched for Inara, Sam, Dillon, Breed and Alex, along with Noni and the other Reilly girls, to add their own when the occasion arose.

The little boy had also had his first feed. Simon couldn’t help smiling as he thought back those couple of hours. It was something he was going to remember for the rest of his life, even when David was grown up, with children of his own. He always regretted not being there for Bethie’s birth, even though it wasn’t his choice, being otherwise engaged being tortured. But this, his son … he hadn’t been able to stop the tears.

Movement had him looking up.

“They okay?” Mal asked from the big armchair in front of the fire as River rejoined them. She’d just looked in on the parlour.

“Shiny.” She yawned and stretched. “Kaylee’s dreaming of strawberries.”

“That don’t surprise me.”

“I’ll bring some from the garden tomorrow.” She sat down on the floor next to Jayne, his arm automatically wrapping around her. “A birthday treat.”

“She’d like that.” Mal smiled.

River leaned her head against Jayne’s shoulder. “Do you think if she ate enough, it would make her breast milk taste of them?” she asked nonchalantly.

Mal looked a little uneasy. “Albatross, that ain’t exactly the topic of conversation we should really be having.”

“Why not?” Her dark eyes were mischievous. “It’s entirely natural. I breastfed Caleb. Freya breastfed both of your children, and Zoe –”

“River.” He hadn’t blushed. At least, not that they could tell, since his shirt was buttoned quite high.

Her lips twitched. “Prude.”

“Yeah, fine. That’s what I am. And I kinda think, at my age, that ain't gonna change.” He fiddled with his collar as if making it more comfortable.

Hank stifled a laugh, echoed by Jayne’s growl.

“Stop it,” Freya said gently, perched on a stool in front of the fire toasting a slice of Ellie’s bread on a large, twisted metal fork. “He’s in a delicate condition.”

“You broody, captain?” Zoe asked from the table.

Mal glared. “I think that’s between me and my wife, don’t you?”

River smiled. “Twins,” she said enigmatically.

Mal’s head span so fast to stare at her that it was surprising his ears stayed in the same place. “Xiao nu?” he asked. “You seeing something?”

The young psychic shrugged. “Perhaps.”

“She’s said it before,” Hank pointed out, pouring a cup of tea from the pot for himself. “Remember?” He glanced at Zoe. “Although maybe it’s us.”

“There are twins in my family,” Freya pointed out, turning the bread so it toasted evenly. “I’m a twin.”

“Mine too,” Mal considered. “My Pa …”

“Not yet,” River added.

“But there might be?”

She shrugged again. “Might be me.”

Next to her, Jayne grinned widely.

“And on that somewhat unsettling thought, you figure Bobby’s gonna be okay?” Mal asked, deftly changing the subject, but not before seeing Freya smile into the flames.

“He’s taken Tyree home,” Zoe said, ever watchful. “And I doubt he’ll be back tonight.” She paused. “Do you think it’s love, sir?”

“You didn’t see the look on Bobby’s face when I was stitching that cut. He was … well, it was pretty much the way Frey looks at me when I’ve been shot.” His lips lifted. “I’d say … yeah, pretty certain to be love.”

“Good.” Zoe nodded firmly. “Everyone needs someone.”

“Couldn’t agree more,” Mal said, leaning forwards so he could run the tips of his fingers down Freya’s spine, knowing her tattoo was shining brightly beneath her shirt, and making her twitch.

“I lose this toast, you can do the next slice,” she said over her shoulder, but smiling nevertheless.

“So who won?” Hank asked, sipping his tea, and feeling so relaxed he could have gone into orbit without benefit of spaceship.

“I did,” River said.

“Apart from you.”

“Why should I be excluded?” Her large dark eyes seemed to bore into him.

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe ‘cause you’re a Reader?”

She blinked, then smiled. “There is that.”

“So I figure maybe you had an unfair advantage.”

Jayne growled, but it was a laugh rumbling in his chest. “Think he’s got you there, moonbrain.”

She sighed. “Perhaps.”

“And if Frey came next, I think she should be disqualified too,” Hank went on.

“Hey!” the woman in question said.

Mal chuckled and put his hand on her back again.

“As it happens, she didn’t.” River drew her legs elegantly under her, putting them all in mind of Maoli.

Simon spoke, startling them all. Most of them had forgotten he was there, he was so quietly absorbed in his son. “You had a sweepstake?”

River nodded. “Of course.”

“About my son.”

“Yes. On when he would be born. Jayne held the money.” She gazed at him. “Are you angry?”

Her brother couldn’t help the smile that crept across his lips. “No. I suppose not.” He glanced down at the baby in his arms. “I’m not sure I can be angry about anything at the moment.”

“Good job ‘bout that, doctor,” Mal put in. “I think Kaylee might have something to say if I had to put you out the airlock.”

The others chuckled, and Simon just shook his head in resignation.

“So who won?” Hank asked, going back to the original subject.

River made a great show of removing a sheet of paper from the pocket of her dress, smoothing it out and perusing it carefully. “Well, if I remove myself from the equation ...” Her eyes narrowed, her lips moving slightly as if calculating.

“River ...”

She looked up and him and grinned. “Zoe.”

Hank brightened, glancing at his wife. “Really?”

“Not far after me,” River explained, wanting to make it perfectly clear that she had, in fact, won.

“Congratulations,” Simon said dryly. “I hope you and their money will be very happy together.”

Zoe smiled. “It’s not mine. It’s David’s.”

Hank looked bewildered for a moment, then his eyes darted to the child in Simon’s arms. “Ah.” He nodded. “Good idea.”

Simon, his own brain slightly on the befuddled side, said, “I don’t understand.”

Mal took the slice of toast Freya handed to him, and began to butter it carefully. “Well, Simon, you see ... there’s this safe on board Serenity. And in that safe there’s a number of small bags, each with some cashey money in it. And it looks like there’s gonna be another one added.”

“I still don’t ...” He paused, and they could see the metaphorical lightbulb come on above his head. It had probably only taken that time because he was physically and mentally exhausted. “You mean ...”

Mal nodded, using the butter knife as emphasis as he said, “One for each of the kids. Not much, but a few credits each time there’s a good payday. By the time they’re eighteen might only be enough for a coming of age and getting drunk party, or maybehaps enough to buy a ship, if we’re that lucky. But it don’t get touched, not for any reason.”

He hadn’t known. Simon could feel warmth spread through him at the mere thought of this man’s generosity, and realised he should have guessed. “Mal ...”

“Frey’s idea,” Mal said quickly, handing her half the toast as she moved around on the stool.

“And my winnings go into the start for David’s,” Zoe added, feeling Hank squeeze her hand.

“I ... I don’t know what to say.”

Mal grinned. “Well, that’s a good enough reason if there ever was one.”

“Mal,” Freya remonstrated, but only gently, wiping melted butter from her chin with the back of her hand.

“Why didn’t anyone tell me?” Simon wanted to know. “Did you all know?”

“I did,” River piped up.

Mei-mei, that’s a given.”

She smiled and leaned against Jayne even more.

“Not me, doc,” the big man said. “Don’t surprise me, though.”

Simon looked at Zoe. “You did, didn’t you?”

Zoe nodded. “The captain asked me what I thought. I told him.”

“In a tad more flowery terms than that, I seem to recall,” Mal put in. He turned enough so that he could look Simon straight in the face. “See, as was pointed out to me, my crew don’t spend their money on themselves. I know Zoe puts back into the pot, keeps Serenity flyin’. Kaylee’s been known more’n once to pay for something for the engine out of her own pocket, and River and Jayne here buy their own ammo. And I know for a fact you’ve saved up for medical equipment.” His hand moved absently to his chest. “And that’s without kids to clothe and keep entertained. So this here’s our way of making sure there’s something for ‘em, if that rainy day should come.” He had to stop, because Freya had gone down onto her knees in front of him, and now kissed him.

“I ...” For once Simon really was lost for words.

“Just say thank you,” River suggested.

Opening his mouth a couple of times, he finally got his tongue under control. “Thank you.”

Mal waved it away, licking his lips from the melted butter Freya had transferred. “You’re my crew. My family. And that makes you all special.” He glanced down at the tiny baby. “Just a bit more, now.”

Simon blinked hard. “Thank you,” he repeated.

Feeling a slight lump in his own throat, Mal coughed and picked up another slice of bread. “Anyone else hungry?”

“I could do with something,” Jayne grunted. “My belly thinks my throat’s been cut.”

Hank stared at him. “You just ate a huge meal not more than an hour ago.”

“A whole hour. And I got a fast metabolism.”

The pilot’s jaw dropped. “You’ve got a ... what?”

Jayne chuckled. “Just ‘cause you lost the sweep.”

“Shouldn’t be betting anyway,” Mal pointed out. “Seeing as how you’re barred.”

“I didn’t write his guess down,” River admitted. “But I took his money.”

Mal laughed as Hank started to bluster.

In the distance, the clock in the centre of town tolled twelve, and as the gently bickering conversation flowed around him, Simon looked down into the face of his son, and had to smile. No, he thought. I won. Absolutely and most definitely. I won.

Across the room, River grinned.


Sunday, August 23, 2009 1:07 AM


Simon sure won alright....

Sunday, August 23, 2009 2:45 AM


It's nice to see how much Simon really did win, and wise enough to know what a lucky man he was, falling in with disreputable thieves. Nice touch with the looking out for the future stuff.

Sunday, August 23, 2009 6:42 AM


lol.. River keeping Hank square.. That is SO River in my mind. Twins... uh Oh.. who?? River, Freya, ZOE????? That would be OFF THE HOOK!!! Great read!!

Yes Please.. May we have another???

Sunday, August 23, 2009 6:42 AM


lol.. River keeping Hank square.. That is SO River in my mind. Twins... uh Oh.. who?? River, Freya, ZOE????? That would be OFF THE HOOK!!! Great read!!

Yes Please.. May we have another???

Sunday, August 23, 2009 5:32 PM


Oh, lots of foreshadowing in the midst of fluff, me thinks.

Monday, August 24, 2009 2:57 AM


This was brilliant, and I love that Mal and the crew put a bit aside each time they have a good pay day for the children and now there is a little bag for David. Just loved Simon's reaction and River having fun about the prospect of twins in someone's future. Bliss. Thanks for a shiny story that never failed to warm the heart. Will look forward to your next MAYA outing! Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Monday, August 24, 2009 12:55 PM


I truly loved this. sorry now that I fell so far behind. You write these characters so well. :)


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[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

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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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“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

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[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

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[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.

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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.

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“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!]