Masks - Part VIII
Monday, November 16, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. A little more fluff - don't worry, there's action to come! The Serenity girls have spent their first day on board the Empress of Sihnon. NEW CHAPTER


“Wow.” Kaylee fell back on the bed and stared at the ceiling, painted a very dark blue with tiny gold stars scattered across it. “Wow.”

Inara looked at Freya. “It seems our young mechanic here is lost for words.”

“Or we broke her. Although I'm not surprised. I’m finding it hard to think of the right things to say myself.” Freya grinned. “You okay, mei-mei?”

“Shiny.” She sat up. “I mean, I’ve seen ‘em before, a’course. These fancy liners. From a distance. But not up close like this. I’d no idea ...” She coloured, suddenly aware she might be making a fool of herself.

“It’s okay,” Inara said. “I felt pretty much the same way the first time I travelled on one.”

“As a Companion?” Kaylee asked cheekily. “Was he handsome? Good in bed?”

Freya shook her head, but Inara laughed, a gentle tinkling sound like a mountain stream, explaining, “He was a she, and yes, she was good in bed.”

Kaylee’s eyes grew round. “Oooh.” She shuffled forwards. “So? Come on. We need details.”

“Kaylee.” Freya glanced towards the main salon of their suite, where Valentia and Phoebe were discussing the upcoming programme of events.

“They ain’t listening. And we can close the door.”

“I don’t know,” Freya sighed. “You’re not even away from your husband for a day, and you’re already needing a cheap thrill.”

“Oh, I wasn’t cheap.” Inara laughed again, this time at the expression on the younger woman’s face. “Her name was Andra, she was from one of the wealthiest families on Sihnon, and she wanted someone to travel with for a month.”

“Was she your first?” Kaylee kicked her shoes off to be more comfortable.

“As a fully-licensed Companion with a female client, yes. But of course the training I underwent meant I was fully experienced in matters like that.”

Freya picked up the shoes and made a show of putting them in the closet.

“You wouldn’t think anyone living with the Cap’n could still be a prude,” Kaylee stage-whispered.

“He’s just as bad,” Inara responded at the same volume. “You’ve seen how he blushes.”

“Only when he ain’t wearing a shirt.”


Freya coughed loudly. “Excuse me, but that’s my husband you’re talking about,” she said pointedly. “And neither of you should be looking at him with no shirt on. You’re both taken.”

There was a moment’s silence, then they all burst into laughter.

The last few hours had gone by in a blur, from the welcome party in the main ballroom, to the tour of the liner by their own personal steward. Happy to share, the Serenity women were pleasantly surprised to find that they had use of one of the larger of the suites on board, with five bedrooms on two levels. The Reilly girls said they’d take the double, explaining that as they’d be staying on board after Persephone they would take one each after that.

“I can’t believe there’s so much to do,” Kaylee said at last. “I’m not sure I’m going to have time to miss Simon and the girls. And David, of course.” She managed to say her son’s name in an off-handed fashion, but the other women understood.

Inara sat on the edge of the bed and took the young woman’s hand in hers. “You know they say absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

“Oh, I ain't worried about that. But he’s sure to’ve grown by the time I get back, and I don’t want to miss anything.”

“It’s two weeks. Fourteen days. Perhaps less. And David isn’t going to be shaving quite yet.”

Kaylee giggled, just a little. “I know. I'm just being silly. It ain't like he’s on his own.”

“And you know River’s going to spoil him.”

“More worried about Bethie. You know what she’s like about painting people.”

Freya smiled, remembering the times she’d found Ethan with his face like a clown. “You’re probably right.”

At least Kaylee had cheered up from when they’d first stepped into the reception area on board the Empress, and she’d looked around at the people milling about.

“I’m gonna have to hide for the duration,” she’d said in a whisper. “There ain’t no way my clothes’ll work here.”

“Don’t worry,” Inara had assured her. “I brought extra, so there’s sure to be something for everyone. And we can go on a shopping spree. There are supposed to be some wonderful boutiques on board.”

“Oh, Frey said that. Only the Cap wasn’t too happy about it.”

“Kaylee, it’s your money. And if you don’t have enough, I can –”

“No!” She glanced around to see if her louder than anticipated interruption meant people were watching, but they all seemed to be going about their business. “No, ‘Nara. If I ain't got the money, I can’t buy it, simple as that. I ain't being beholden to anyone.”

Inara sighed. “You know, Mal has been a bad influence on you.”

“He’s been a good one, and well you know it.” Kaylee playfully slapped her friend’s arm. “And it ain't just him. If my Pa found out I’d been borrowing money, he’d have a fit.”

“All right,” Inara promised. “I won’t offer.”


But I might just buy a few gifts, the thought went through the older woman’s head.

It was the sight of the ballroom, though, all glitter and soft lights, gold and glamour, that had really tilted her spirits up. That and the huge bed she was now sitting cross-legged on.

“I can’t believe there’s food twenty-four hours a day,” Kaylee went on. “Good job Bethie ain’t here. She’d never stop.”

“That girl surely likes her food,” Zoe said, coming into the room. “And talking of which, I believe we’re due for a sitting down meal.”

Kaylee bounced off the bed. “Oooh, I’d better shower and change.” She looked at Inara. “You said you had something I could wear?”

Inara laughed. “I’ll go and get it.”


And now dinner was done, and the excitements of the day had caught up with the two Reilly girls at least, and everyone had decided an early night was a good idea.

“Breakfast at nine?” their steward, Warren, asked as he turned down the sheets.

“That would be fine,” Inara said, the only one of them used to being treated in this fashion.

“May I suggest the lighter meal? Tea, toast, fruit, with perhaps cereal?”


He smiled. “And tomorrow I would suggest you partake of the services on offer. They are an ideal way to unwind, to get into the rhythm of ship life.”

“I’m sure you’re right.” Inara followed him to the door. “I myself intend to make full use of the aromatherapy suite.”

“I will inform them you will be attending.” He bowed slightly. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.” As the door closed she leaned on it. “You know, I could get used to this.”

“Me too.” Kaylee flopped onto the sofa. “You know, if the rest of the trip is like this, I won’t wanna go home.”

“Really? So I can tell Simon he’s been abandoned?”

“For a while.” Kaylee laughed.

“Well, I’m to my bed.” Inara stifled a small yawn. “If you intend staying up, there’s plenty to watch on the Cortex.”

“Just for a while. I don’t want to miss anything,” the young mechanic agreed. “Although I thought maybe Frey’d be up for a while longer.”

“I think she might be conversing with Mal.”

“Oh, you mean …” Kaylee tapped her temple.


“That’d be kinda nice. You know, just to lie there and chat.”

“I'm sure she’ll pass on any messages to Simon you want.”

This time Kaylee gave a tired giggle. “Not that kinda message.”

“Then I’m sure Mal wouldn’t mind if you sent it direct.”

“No. No, that’s okay. Don’t want anything happening. You know, people who shouldn’t knowing our business.” She kicked off her shoes. “It’s just different, you know? Back on Serenity, we just needed to walk a few steps to tell someone something, only now they’re …”

“I know, mei-mei. But just think about tomorrow.”

“Oh, I am.” She snuggled into the cushions and picked up the Cortex remote. “I’ll keep it down.”

“Thank you. Well, goodnight.”

“’Night, ‘Nara.”

The ex-Companion smiled as she walked to her bedroom, glancing back only once to see Kaylee flipping through the various channels, deciding finally on an old film that was about to start, before going inside and closing the door. It fit so well there was no sound from the sitting room. In fact, the whole ship seemed silent, despite the fact that she knew they were rushing through space towards Delphi.

Undressing quickly, she slid naked between the cool sheets, taking the silver combs out of her hair and laying them on the bedside table next to the capture frame. With only a moment’s consideration, she slid her fingers over the controls, activating it so it scrolled through the images.

Val and Phoebe, Letitia and Rosemary, even Mr and Mrs Boden had been caught unawares. The children, of course, and the crew of Serenity, but mostly they were of Sam. She smiled as the one of him on his birthday appeared, wearing that really silly hat with ears the girls had made for him, and grinning widely. Who could have guessed he used to be a very successful therapist, numbering some of the Core’s highest families amongst his clientele?

Sam had, of course, been in full agreement about Inara going with them.

“It will be good for you. I know you only agreed because Freya wore you down, but I think she’s right.”

She leaned against him, sitting in the ormolu chair and gazing into the dressing table mirror. He was brushing her hair, something he did when he needed to think. Some sort of displacement activity probably. “I’d rather stay with you.”

“I know. But after …” His lips closed, thinned, as if he wasn't quite sure just what he could say.

“It’s all right,” she whispered. “And it wasn’t as if it was a miscarriage.”

“I know.” He bent down and placed a kiss on the crown of her head. “Only a couple of weeks, but I thought …”

“So did I.” She smiled. “But we have time. We both have time.”

“I'm not sure that’s true about me, my love.”

She turned to look up at him. “You know as well as I do that men stay fertile for a lot longer than women. I've never understood the logic behind it, but it’s a fact. Besides, Simon did those tests.”

Sam had to smile. “I don’t think I've ever been so embarrassed.”

“Why? He’s a doctor. It’s perfectly natural.”

“He’s also Simon. I know him.”

“He examined me.”

“And don’t think I’m not jealous about that.”

She stood up, facing him, taking the distance between them to only a breath. “We can have children, Sam.”

“I know.”

“Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but there’s no way I’m not going to be a mother again.”

He traced the contours of her cheek with his fingers. “You are going to be so good. The way you look after the girls, the way you are with the other children … I can’t wait.”

“Neither can I.” She walked into his embrace, feeling his arms around her.

“You are such an extraordinary woman.” He sighed into her hair. “I love you so much.”

Inara lay back on the pillows, watching the stars through the window as the Empress of Sihnon slipped silently onward. “I love you too, Sam,” she whispered, keeping her eyes fixed on the capture images. “Goodnight.”


Mal had deliberately taken the late watch, staring out into the black until he felt the tendrils of his wife’s mind enter his. There was an increasing physical distance between them, but the only trace so far of that in her mental voice was a sort of breathiness that made his blood quicken.

“Everything okay?” he asked, letting the words fall into the stillness of the bridge.

Shiny. He could see her face, her smile. We miss you.

“Miss you too, xin gan.”

You don’t have to talk.

“I know. But it’s like you’re here. Next to me, instead of … there.”

Then I don’t mind.

“You in bed?”


“You wearing one of those skimpy little nightgowns you bought?”

Yes. The pale blue one.

“With the bows?”

That’s it.

An image filled his mind and he shifted in the seat. “Might have to hold that thought ‘til I'm back in our bunk.”

Longer than that.

“What do you mean?”

Turn around.

He moved the seat so he could look towards the bridge entrance. Ethan stood in the doorway, his little pyjamas creased, his hair mussed.

“Hey, what’re you doing up here?” Mal asked, holding out his arms.

Ethan ran to him and scrambled up onto his lap, his knitted toy alligator as always in his grasp. “Couldn’t sleep.”

“Missing your Mama?”

Ethan nodded. “You’re talking to her.”

Mal had to smile. “Guess I am. Do you want to?”

The nodding grew more frantic. “’Es.”

There was a familiar feel like someone smiling at them.


The little boy grinned. “Mama.”

Have you been a good boy for your Daddy?

“Yes, Mama. We had ice cream.”

Did you? I hope you saved some for me.

“Next time, Mama.”

They ‘chatted’ for a while, but it wasn’t long before Mal could see Ethan was having to fight to keep his eyes open.

“Come on, big feller,” he said, gathering his son to him. “Time for you to go back to bed.”


“It’s okay, xin gan. Our little boy’s just tuckered out.”

The impression of a loving smile filled both their minds. Then it’s bedtime.

“Don’t want to,” Ethan grumbled. “S’ren’ty feels empty.”

“Do you wanna sleep with me tonight?” Mal asked, then had to try hard not to laugh as his son nodded and yawned at the same time. “Okay then. Just this once.”

Warmth washed over them. Goodnight, my best boys.

“’Night, zhang fu.”

“Mama gone?” Ethan asked sleepily, snuggling against his father.

Mal waited, but he was alone again. “I conjure she’s gone to her temporary bed.”

“Missing us.”

“That she is.”

Mal took one last look at the boards, but everything was quiet. Standing up carefully, he headed for his own bunk, Ethan wrapped around him.

It was only with the ease of long practice that he managed to make it down the ladder without breaking his or his son’s neck, but what he saw when he reached the deck made him smile. Jesse had clambered into his and Freya’s bed at some point, and now lay with her little hands fisted into her mother’s pillow, fast asleep.

With infinite care Mal kicked off his boots, then moved the blanket to one side, sitting on the bed to make sure there was enough room for them all.

“Not undressed,” Ethan mumbled, but he was to all intents and purposes already out like a light.

“I don’t think your Momma’s gonna mind that much,” Mal whispered, laying down and settling his son onto his chest. “Not just this once.”


“Madam, please.”

“I want to walk. It’s good for me.”

“Then at least let me –”

“No. I don’t need a … a babysitter.”

“Madam, in your condition –”

“I’m not sick! Besides, my husband pays you very well to do what I say. I want to walk. On my own.”

“Madam, please.”

“Everyone’s asleep. I hardly think I’m in any danger here, do you? And I can take care of myself.”

“Madam …”

“And when I get back I’ll require a pot of tea, and some of those almond biscuits.”

There was a silence, then a sigh. “Yes, Madam Reynolds.”

to be continued


Monday, November 16, 2009 10:59 AM


Great fluff as usual....

Madame Reynolds?!?!?!?!?

What have you got percolating in your brainpan, Jane?

Monday, November 16, 2009 2:50 PM


Huh. Now that's very interesting..... Looking forward to more!

Monday, November 16, 2009 4:20 PM


Mal's such a sweetie!! I am wondering though as well..where are you going with this?!

Monday, November 16, 2009 5:17 PM


Oh no. The vixen lives!

Monday, November 16, 2009 6:32 PM


Can't wait to see how this goes. And it looks like it may go south rather soon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009 11:59 AM


Uh oh, and things were going so well too. Madame Reynolds? Is that Mal's ma turning up now? Or are you intending to throw a great big spanner in the works and lumber him with another wife he didn't know he had? Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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!]