Masks - Part VI
Thursday, October 29, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. It's not just Freya going on the cruise with the Reilly twins ... and there might be trouble ahead - but when isn't there? NEW CHAPTER and my sincere apologies for the unforgivably long delay in posting.


Freya’s announcement silenced the room more effectively than if she’d said she was planning on turning Reaver.

Of all of them, only River wasn’t staring, more concerned with Caleb not choking on his food than her surrogate mother’s announcement she was intending to accompany the Reilly girls on their cruise.

Besides, she knew anyway, having picked it up while Freya and Mal were still arguing.

“You’re going with them?” Simon asked finally, getting his tongue under control.

“Mal’s right,” Freya said, glancing at her husband. “I don’t feel happy about the girls being let loose on an unsuspecting ‘verse either, considering the damage I think they could do.” She smiled at Val and Phoebe, whose budding objections were silenced as they realised she was joking. “And the truth is they need some kind of bodyguard, if nothing else to fight off all the young men who are bound to fall in love with them. And it really wouldn’t be fair to make them wait any longer. So I’ll be it, at least until the liner gets to Persephone.”

“How long’ll that be?” Kaylee wanted to know, visions of scented oils, huge bath towels and pampered from head to toe until she was sick blooming in her mind.

“Ten days or so. Two weeks, tops, if we pick up the liner at Beaumonde.” Freya laughed. “And I wasn’t thinking of going alone. I think Zoe should come as well.”

The dark woman’s eyes widened. “Me?”

“Zoe?” Hank echoed.

“I think it would do her good, make sure she got some rest and relaxation.” Freya looked at Simon. “The strapping’s coming off soon, isn’t it?”

“In a few days,” the doctor agreed. “Then it will just be a case of gentle exercise.”

“Something she might not get on board,” Mal put in, for some reason glancing at his pilot as he did so, who managed to look affronted.

“I'm fine, sir,” Zoe said. “And don’t I have a say?”

“There’s low grav pools, gymnasia, massage therapists …” Freya laid out the extras on the table, making Kaylee drool even more. “I don’t think she could be in better hands.”

“It would certainly make for good therapy,” Simon said slowly. “And they will have a fully equipped hospital on board.”

“I’m hoping none of us is likely to confirm that,” Freya laughed. “But yes, there’ll be doctors on hand. None as good as you, of course, but adequate.”

“Honey?” Hank looked at his wife. “Did you know about this?”

Zoe shook her head slowly. “Not a word.”

“You don’t have to, of course.” Freya shrugged. “But all that luxury, just imagine it.”

“Do you want to?” Hank wanted to know.

“Well …” Zoe bit her lip.

“I mean, if you do, it’s only a fortnight. I’m sure me and Ben can cope for that long.” He grinned, even if it was a trifle lop-sided. “Be a chance for us to have some boy time, eh?” He ruffled his son’s hair.

“Yes, Daddy,” the little boy said, nodding hard. “Momma will have fun too.”

“That she would.”

“Then perhaps …” Zoe glanced at Mal, not exactly for permission, but more for his thoughts.

He chuckled. “Zo, me and Frey argued over this more’n anything. Whether I can cope without my right hand. Even if you ain’t got use of yours for the moment.” He nodded towards the strapping. “But she’s right. A few days relaxing, you’ll come back stronger than ever. And I guess we can manage.”

“Thanks for that glowing recommendation.” The dryness of her tone was palpable.

“But I haven’t finished.” Freya dropped the last bombshell. “So Zoe and me are going as chaperones, but as neither of us is too sure of etiquette, I thought maybe Inara might like to come with us.”

“Me?” If an ex-Companion could squeak, Inara almost reached hypersonic.

“Why not? You know which knife to use, and I don’t mean sticking it in someone’s back.”

Inara coughed to clear the obvious frog in her throat. “Freya Reynolds, you know exactly what knife to use and when, and I do mean waggling it in someone’s spine.”

“Waggling?” It wasn’t quite a smirk on the other woman’s face, but close to.

“Yes. Waggling. And you’re impossible.”

“Why? Because I think it might do you good?”

“Why should I need anything like that?” Inara closed her eyes briefly. “I have my home, I have the other girls to look after, and Sam won’t be back for a few days, so I couldn’t possibly –”

“Now, ‘Nara,” Mal interrupted. “It’s gonna be a week ‘fore we need to get going, plenty of time to make other arrangements.”

“What if I don’t want to?”

Mal’s eyes snapped to Freya’s, and the ‘conversation’ they’d had played through his mind again. “You’d be doing me a favour,” he said finally. “Keep these two outta trouble. And I ain't meanin’ the girls.” He flashed the younger Reilly twins a smile, and they coloured hotly.

“I'd consider taking offence at that,” Freya put in. “If I didn’t agree with you.”

“Phew.” Mal mimed wiping sweat from his forehead, making the children giggle. “Thought for a moment there I might be on the couch tonight.”

“It’s a comfortable couch. You should ask Sam,” Inara said, her eyes slightly narrowed.

“He’s made acquaintance with it already?” Mal grinned. “So the honeymoon’s over?”

“We’re not married, Mal.”

“Yeah, about that. You know how I feel about folks livin’ in sin.”

“Oh, shut up.” Inara stared at him until he subsided, the smug look still on his face. Still, there was more to the suggestion than just playing chaperone, that was obvious, and she had a sneaking suspicion she knew what it was.

It’ll be fun, she suddenly heard in her mind, and she almost jumped from her seat. Only her Companion training kept her exterior calm and collected.

Frey? she thought back.

And I’ve only told Mal.

Inara let her dark eyes fall on her friend. That was in confidence. She formed the words carefully, not sure how to actually go about having a mental conversation with a psychic.

There was the impression of a smile, echoed on Freya’s face. It still is.

Ethan looked from his mother to his aunt, and sighed deeply, echoed by Bethie, who took the opportunity of nobody watching the children to reach out and snag yet another dumpling from the large serving dish.

“Well, I suppose I could.” Inara spoke slowly. “As long as Sam’s back, and Mrs Boden doesn’t mind.”

“Aunt Inara, does this mean we don’t get our party?” Rosemary asked, always the more outspoken of the two younger twins.

“No, I think that can go ahead. Just don’t run Sam ragged.”

Rosemary and Letitia exchanged a look that didn’t exactly bode well for the good Dr Nazir. “Yes, Aunt Inara,” they chorused.

“I mean it.”

“Yes, Aunt Inara.”


Freya grinned. “That’s settled, then.”

“Can’t I come?” Kaylee asked, her eyes bright with the prospect of being treated like a lady. “I could … I don’t know, maybe keep an eye on things for you when you’re sleepy.”

“Not this time,” Mal said. He went on quickly, seeing her face fall. “What if something needs fixing on Serenity?”

“She’s running fine, Cap’n,” Kaylee insisted. “I’ve done a lot of work on her while we were on Phoros, and those parts Leo got me on Jericho are better’n I could have bought otherwise. Even the entry couplings look good.”

Mal gazed at her, seeing just how much she was still the bubbly girl he’d taken on that day, getting rid of the worst mechanic in the ‘verse and replacing him with the best. “I don’t know …”

“Why not?” Inara leaned her elbows elegantly on the table. “If we’re going, I don’t think it would be fair for Kaylee not to come.”

“Well, seeing as she’s got a babe in arms to deal with, and my ship, I kinda think –”

“I could do that,” River said suddenly. “Look after David Gabriel, and fix anything that gets broken.”

“Don’t you wanna come?” Kaylee was starting to get excited again. “Be all girls together?”

“I've been on a cruise.” River dropped her eyes, seeming to be very interested in the salt grains on her plate. “I wouldn’t want to go again.”

There was silence as they realised and remembered Jethro McCall, the young not-quite shepherd they’d taken on board. River had fallen for him, but when he died rescuing her and Inara …

“Sorry, mei-mei,” Kaylee said, her buoyancy pricked.

“Not your fault.” River gave herself a visible shake, helped enormously by Jayne’s hand on hers, and she looked up. “But I can stay behind.”

Mal looked at Freya. “What do you think?”

She laughed. “I think it would be wonderful if Kaylee comes too.”

The young woman in question squealed, deafening those either side of her and eliciting feedback from the baby monitor next to her plate.

“Wait a minute,” Simon said. “Don’t I get a vote in this?”

She turned to look at him, her limpid eyes on full. “You don’t want me to go?”

“Well, no, I don’t, but that’s for purely selfish reasons. I’m not sure I could sleep if you’re not next to me.”

“Aw, that’s real sweet, honey.” She put her hand on his cheek, curving her palm around his jaw. “But it’d be fun. Oh, I know you’ve probably done all those things before, gone on cruises and the like, but this is probably the only time it’s ever gonna happen to me. Do you really mind?”

Simon internalised the sigh, knowing she was doing the puppy-dog to the fullest of her abilities, and as always his objections crumbled under the onslaught. “No, of course not. You go with them, and have a good time.” His heart warmed as he was suddenly on the receiving end of one of her brightest smiles. “It will give me time to bond with David. And Bethie and Hope will help, won’t you?”

His oldest daughter looked up and swallowed quickly. “Of course, Daddy,” she said, fragments of dumpling adhering to her teeth.

Hope just smiled, her fingers sketching an interstellar liner in her mind’s eye.

“Seems to be settled, then,” Mal said, rubbing his hands together. “We’ll be picking you up on Persephone,” he went on. “Got word from Badger of a job coming up, and it fits in nicely. So you ladies can have two weeks of luxury ‘fore you have to start slummin’ it again.”

“You know they’re gonna do nothing but talk about us, don’t you?” Hank stage-whispered to Simon.

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised.”

“Day and night …” Hank shuddered. “Nothing’s gonna be sacred.”

Inara coughed again, this time to get everyone’s attention. “There’s one thing we haven’t touched on. Whether Valentia and Phoebe mind us tagging along.”

“They ain’t goin’ alone,” Mal said firmly. “My mind’s made up about that, at the least.”

“No, I understand that. But it’s quite different from having most of your aunts with you.” She turned to the girls. “Do you mind?”

Val and Phoebe looked at each other, the unspoken communication of twins passing between them, almost visible in the soft light.

Then Val nodded. “We’d be delighted if you could join us. And we will, of course, pay.”

In all honesty they looked somewhat relieved, and it didn’t take anyone being psychic to understand. Although their father had been something of a rascal, and their legal guardian (in the shape of Mal) not much better, they’d been loved and protected most of their lives, so to leave the home they’d known for the last few years and be totally alone was daunting, even if the fun they could have – aka the trouble they could get into – might be seriously curtailed.

“No.” Mal spoke firmly, shaking his head. “No need to think about cashey money. We’ve been lucky lately, so there’s some spare.”

“I thought you didn’t believe in luck?” Kaylee’s happiness was back, and she was enjoying teasing him.

“No, well, I don’t. But that don’t mean we ain’t got the wherewithal.”

“And in all probability not enough,” Inara pointed out. “The Empress is the flagship of the cruise line, and her prices correspondingly high. I can, of course, pay for myself, but –”

“No.” This time it was Val being firm, and perhaps a little louder than strictly necessary. “We will pay. We want to. You’ve taken us into your home, into your family. It’s the very least we can do. Please.”

Mal looked at Freya, an equally silent conversation going on. Finally he nodded slowly. “Okay. This once. But don’t think I won’t figure out a way to pay you back.”

“You wouldn’t be Uncle Mal if you didn’t.”

Mal grinned, then a shudder ran through him. “The six o’ you … Gorram, but they don’t know what’s gonna hit ‘em.”


Freya was staring at her sparse wardrobe, fingering the dresses Dillon had bought her when she was pregnant with Jesse, seeing what might be suitable for a cruise, when footsteps on the ladder behind her made her smile. “So do you think you can cope without me for two weeks?” she asked quietly.

Mal crossed the small room and slid his arms around her waist. “No.”

“You can have fun, all boys together.” She laughed as she felt him shake his head.

“Believe me, that’s the bit that’s sticking,” Mal admitted. “If River wasn't staying behind I’d seriously consider jumping ship and joining you.”

She turned around in his embrace. “You always could. A few days, at least.”

“I thought about it. But I’ve got my own ship to run, and we spend all our time in each other’s pockets as it is.”

“Can’t wait to get rid of me, is that it?” she teased. “Fancy a taste of something new?”

“Absolutely. Got the advert ready to put out on the Cortex as we speak. Anyone wants to bunk with a handsome, roguish Firefly captain for two weeks should apply to –”

He couldn’t finish as she’d stopped his mouth with a kiss.

“Idiot,” she murmured as she let him breathe.

“That’s Captain idiot, if you don’t mind.” He chuckled. “Although truth is I still don’t see why Kaylee has to go.”

“Mal, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Simon … well, he does a share, but I couldn’t say it was 50 percent.”

He pulled back enough so he could look into her hazel eyes. “You saying the boy’s shirking his responsibilities?”

“Put your hackles down. And no. It’s not that he doesn’t want to, it’s more that Kaylee won’t let him. She takes David into the engine room with her, feeds him, bathes him … I just think it would be a good idea if she let Simon take more of an active role while she gets pampered.”

“She’s just had a month with her family getting just that.”

“And within eight days she was back tinkering with Serenity.”

“Something you put a stop to.”

“Only the times I found out. The truth is she needs to get away, to be Kaylee again for a while, not Mrs Tam, or Serenity’s engineer.”


“Whatever.” She pressed harder against him. “She carried that baby for nine months, then gave birth. I think she deserves it, don’t you?”

“You trying to get around me with the puppy-dog eyes?” he asked, his warm toffee voice getting a little throatier. “Just like the rest of the women on board?”

“Zoe doesn’t do them.”

“No. She gets Hank to instead.”

“That’s ... entirely disturbing.”

“Yeah, sorry about that. But it don’t mean you’re not doing them right now.”

“Is it working?”

“Maybe.” He kissed her, feeling her hands on his back, rubbing up and down his spine. When he finally surfaced, he looked into her face, slightly pinked across the cheeks. “Okay, woman. You’ve used your wiles, and I’ll let her go.”

“Good.” She ran one hand down to his buttocks, squeezing gently. “Which is lucky,” she added. “Seeing as Inara’s already arranging the tickets.”

He growled lightly. “So it’s one of those fait accompli’s.”

“Pretty much.”

He laughed again. “Anyway, what are you doing over here?” He glanced around their bunk. “Not that I mind, a’course, seeing as we’re the only ones on board, but I figured you’d be taking advantage of that big bath before we went to bed.”

She nodded over her shoulder into the cupboard. “Looking to see if any of my clothes are going to be okay for a cruise.”


“Basically, no.”

“So what does that mean?”

“A trip into town, perhaps. Although I might wait until we get on board. There are supposed to be some wonderful shops in the arcades.”

This time he groaned. “Meanin’ our little nest egg is gonna be a whole lot smaller by the end of this.”

“No. Not really. I'm sure we can make do, if you really feel –”

It was a moment or two later that he responded, on account of his mouth being pressed to hers, his tongue running across her lips. “Now you know that ain’t the case. Like I told the girls, we’ve had some good luck, and I’m not gonna begrudge anyone spending a little on themselves. Long as it is only a little.”

She smiled, her hands caressing his back. “Maybe a dress or two. We can’t have Inara showing us up, can we?”

“Frey, darlin’, if you didn’t wear anything ‘cept what you’ve got on now, I’m not going to fret.” He glanced down at her serviceable tan pants and shirt. “You’re beautiful, no matter what clothes are on your back.”

“You always know the right thing to say.”

“Had years of practice at getting it wrong. Maybe I’ve finally turned the corner.”


“And besides, I mean every word, xin gan.” This time he only kissed the tip of her nose.

She sighed happily. “That’s lovely.”

“And I figured that if I said it right, I might be able to tempt you into bed.”

This time she laughed. “You think so?”

“Mmn. And like I said, we’re the only ones on board. We can do what we want, where we want.”

“Really?” She hummed against him. “So I can run naked through the ship?”

“Well, if you really wanted to, I don’t think I’d be stopping you.”

“Hey, I’m not the only one who’d be their losing their underwear.”

“I think I could be persuaded to join you. Although seeing as I don’t always wear any ...” He grinned, the one he kept just for her, the one that had her heart beating fast, and this time when he dipped his head, there were no words for a long time.



“It’s her all right. Looks just like her picture.”

“Can we grab her now?”

“No. She’s not alone.”

“But it’s definitely that liner?”

“The Empress of Sihnon, yes.”

“Good. You’d better go and –”

“Jarrett’s getting the tickets now.”

“There’ll be an opportunity, somewhere along the route, or if not we can make it look like she was snatched by slavers. One way or the other, there’s a good pay day in it for us.”

“I don’t like working for him, though, and it’s not like we need the money.”

“That’s why I'm in charge and you’re not. It’ll serve us well in the long run. We’ll get some good business connections out of it, as well as the cash. Just go and make sure your brother’s not getting gypped. You know what he’s like sometimes, especially if the cashier’s a girl.”

“Yes, Chester.”

to be continued


Thursday, October 29, 2009 3:12 PM


So when are you going to let us in on who is the target of the kidnappers? Loved to see more of this story and now you made the stakes very high since most of the womenfolk will be aboard the liner. Glad you left the resident psychic aboard to tell the men there's a problem.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 6:23 PM


The roller coaster is about to leave the station. I can't wait to see what you have in store for those going on the liner and those left behind.

I know it'll be twisty and have lots of turns and it looks like it will be one heck of a ride.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 6:31 PM


I loved Inara and Freya in this one. Oh, and the couch line was just perfect. Nicely done, but me thinks cruise is not going to be all relaxation.

Friday, October 30, 2009 12:50 AM


Loved the FREYA goodness best, and when the women set their minds to something you just know the men on Serenity have no choice but to go along with it. I wasn't surprised at the kidnappers discussion at the end, after all, we can't have a nice shiny cruise going smooth can we? But who are they talking about? None of our ladies have joined the liner yet or even bought the tickets which makes me think there must be somebody already booked to travel and three guesses who will be caught up in the whole gorram thing? Yep, think it's time for the ladies to be Heroes in this one! Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Friday, October 30, 2009 1:58 PM


Bad Jane.... Leaving big cliffhangers....

Just like I do (Evil Grin)

Bravo as usual!

Friday, October 30, 2009 2:09 PM


more please with a cherry on top :)


You must log in to post comments.



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!]