Secrets - Part XIX
Sunday, April 19, 2015

Freya gazed at Inara, at the innate elegance of her simple blue tunic and full length skirt, her newly short hair making her look even more delicate, more elfin than usual. Still, that didn’t disguise the steel core. “Okay.” Freya nodded slowly. “When you’re ready. Just don’t leave it too late.” [Maya. Post-BDM. Edging closer to finding out about another secret, this time Inara's.]



Freya, standing outside Inara’s bedroom door, dropped her hand and smiled at her son. “Morning, sleepyhead.”

Ethan yawned and scratched his head, making his hair stand on end as his other hand twisted in his pyjama tail. “Did I miss breakfast?”

“Just a bit, although I think if you go and ask Mrs Boden nicely she’ll make you something.” She went down onto her heels and held out her arms. He hurried forwards and allowed her to hug him as she studied his bleary eyes. “Are you feeling okay?”

He nodded, then shook his head and finally shrugged. “Bad dreams,” he admitted.

“We all get those.” Freya pushed his hair flat again. “Anything in particular?”

“No. Just …” He shrugged again.

“Kept you awake?” She wasn’t surprised – her own sleep hadn’t been all that restful.

“Mmn.” Another yawn overtook him.

“I think you’d better go back to bed,” Freya said gently.

“Hungry,” Ethan complained but without much heat.

“I’ll get you a tray.”

He brightened up. “Breakfast in bed?”

“Just this once.” She tickled him lightly around the waist and made him giggle. “Go on. I won’t be long.”

“Okay, Mama.” He kissed her cheek then ran back towards his room.

Freya couldn’t help the warm feeling flooding through her as she stood up. Was Mal like that as a child, before the war, before he lost his home? Shaking her head and feeling desperately that she wished she could talk to his mother to find out, she knocked on the door. “Inara?”

“Go away.”

“Inara, open the door.”

“I said go away. I’m not talking to you.” The annoyance of an ex-Companion came clearly through the wood.

“Really? Because if it’s not you then it must be Sam. I didn’t know he was this good at throwing his voice, considering he’s down in the kitchen helping River feed Caleb.”

The door flung back. “Baichi!” Inara glared at her friend, her cheeks flushed.

Freya crossed her arms but didn’t take offence. “Probably.”

“You had no right!”

“Do you really want to do this out here? Where anyone can hear?”

“I don’t intend doing it at all!” She slammed the door again, but it bounced off Freya’s booted foot.

“We’re going to talk. And you’d better calm down – it’s not good for the baby.” She slid past Inara into the room.

“Not good for …” Inara turned. “You had no right,” she repeated.

“You’re sick.”

“I’m pregnant!”

“And sick.”

Inara closed her eyes briefly. “It has nothing to do with you.”

“Of course it does.” Freya’s voice gentled. “You’re family.”

“Then give me some space.”

“That’s what we’ve been doing. And you still haven’t told us anything.”

“There’s nothing to tell.” Inara walked past her to sit at her dressing table, picking up a hairbrush.

“Inara, don’t lie to me.”

“Or what?” She span on the seat. “Or you’ll Read me?”

“No. I won’t. And not just because I can’t.”

“You can’t?”

“Your hormones, I think. But I wouldn’t anyway.”

“Why not?” Inara almost sneered. “Why change now?”

“You want me to?”

The air in the room seemed to spark.

“You told Simon to take my blood. Without my permission.” Inara was gripping the hairbrush so tightly her knuckles were white.

“He can help.”

“No. He can’t.” Inara took a deep breath. “Frey, I know you want to help. You think you have to. Well, you don’t. There’s nothing to help with.”

“Inara –”

“Look after your own family. They need it. I don’t.”

Freya gazed at Inara, at the innate elegance of her simple blue tunic and full length skirt, her newly short hair making her look even more delicate, more elfin than usual. Still, that didn’t disguise the steel core.

“Okay.” Freya nodded slowly. “When you’re ready. Just don’t leave it too late.” She turned and strode out, closing the door quietly behind her. Only once the lock had clicked did she allow the worry to show on her face. She leaned on the stair rail, trying to get back her control.

A noise below had her looking over the edge, just in time to see Hank hurry out of the yellow-drawing room and start searching through the coats hanging up on the wall.

“I know we’re playing hide and seek,” he called, lifting the lid on a large wooden box and only finding old boots and shoes, “but you didn’t have to do it that well!”

There was a quickly stifled giggle, but he couldn’t tell where it came from.

Freya watched him anxiously trying to decide where to look next. “Hank.”

“What?” His expression resembled a startled rabbit until he looked up and realised who it was. “Oh. Hi.”

“Can you do me a favour?”

“What do you need?” The pilot sank down onto floor, his back against the wall. “Anything to be able to stop playing. Dammit, was I ever that young?”

She started down the stairs. “Have you ever grown up?”

“True. Very true.” He laughed, then grimaced as the scar pulled just a little in his belly, reminding him that he wasn’t yet quite fully recovered from the bullet wound, and maybe he should be taking things a bit more carefully. “Okay, what can I do you for?”

“I’d do it myself, but I know you’re almost as good as River.”

“Please. Not both of us in the same sentence.”

“So I’d owe you one.”

Hank’s eyebrows raised. “You intrigue me, more and more. And I don’t just mean sexually.”

“Do I have to tell Zoe on you?”

He clutched his chest. “How could you? And after all we’ve been through?” Freya rolled her eyes, and he laughed again. “Okay, tell me.”

“Well ...” Now she was actually asking, she felt unsure.

“It can't be that bad.”

“Inara placed a wave before all this started, to Sihnon.”

“To her mother. I remember you mentioned it.”

“I need you to find the Cortex address.”

Hank pulled his knees up in front of him and rested his elbows on them. “You want me to hack the system.”


“Can I ask why?”

“Just ... I don’t think Inara’s telling us something.”

“About what?”

“I think she’s sick. I mean really sick. Not just because of the pregnancy.”

Now Hank was all attention. “Have you asked her? Face to face?”

“Yes. And I think she lied to me. And to Simon.”

He nodded slowly. “Can you give me an hour or two?”

“Hank, take as long as you need.”

He climbed back to his feet, favouring his stomach just a little, and dusted his pants off. “You really think her mother knows?”

“I have no idea. It just seems … appropriate.”

“Frey, I’d put money on your instincts. If I bet anymore. And you know how I used to win.”

Freya smiled slightly. “Thanks.”

“Can you let the kids know I’ve got to stop playing?”

“I think they probably know already.”

“Oh, right. Bethie.” He grinned, letting his usual good humour mask his anxiety. “Maybe you can take over.”

“Hank, I know where they are.”

There was another giggle that echoed through the hall.

“Of course you do.” He lifted his head. “You just give me a rain check, okay?” he called.

“Okay, Uncle Hank.” It was Bethie’s voice, a huge sigh wrapped up in a little body.

He chuckled and headed out into the morning light.

“Auntie Frey?”

“Yes, Bethie?”

“Do you really know where we are?”

“What do you think?”


“Not today.” There was an almost physical easing of tension. “Just find something to do quietly, dong mah?”

Dang rahn.”

Freya had to smile, then hurried to the green door to get her son some food.


Sam wiped the porridge from his shirt with a napkin, but just knew it was going to stain.

“Sorry,” River said, not looking apologetic at all. “He likes to play with his food.”

“So I gathered. And it doesn’t matter.”

“I’ll wash it for you, if you like.”

“I can do that,” Mariah Boden said, clearing the table.

“It’s fine.” Sam laughed. “And I have the feeling I’m going to have to get used to it.”

“Didn’t you feed Dhira?” River tilted her head slightly as she spoke of Sam’s daughter.

“I did. At least once.” He smiled. “There were nursemaids, I’ll admit, but I don’t remember Dhira ever throwing food at me. Or even getting particularly dirty. That was much more in her mother’s line, especially paint.”

River nodded, knowing his wife had been an artist, and well known. “And you enjoyed cleaning her up again afterwards?”

“Is that a lucky guess or are you Reading me?”

“Lucky guess,” she admitted.

Caleb banged his spoon on the table. “Mama! More!”

“No more, my lad,” River said, taking the spoon and bowl, handing it all to Mrs Boden. “You’ll burst. And I can never get Mal to clean up the mess.” Sam raised an eyebrow at her until she grinned.

“Even if I didn’t know I would be able to tell he’s Jayne’s son,” the counsellor commented.

“Of course he is.” River considered taking affront but decided she didn’t have the energy.

“And don’t you normally all eat together?” Sam asked, going back to the stain and feeling the fabric already starting to stiffen.

“Usually. I overslept.”

“Leave the shirt out for me, sir. I’ll get it clean,” Mrs Boden said pointedly.

“Thank you.” Sam looked back at River. “And what kept you awake? Or shouldn’t I ask?”

River shrugged as she cleaned the food from Caleb’s face with a damp rag Mrs Boden had given her. “Not that. My Jayne did his best, but … the voices came in the night and chased sleep away."

“I … don’t understand.” Sam wondered if he should call Simon.

Freya stepped through the door into the warm kitchen, letting it swing shut behind her. “I wouldn’t,” she advised, smiling slightly.

Sam looked up in surprise. “Did you just Read me?”

“Not really. Maybe a little,” Freya amended quickly. “You’re worried about Inara and it’s making you a bit loud.”


“Not your fault.” She looked at Mrs Boden. “Would you mind getting a tray together for Ethan? He’s having breakfast in bed today.”

“Of course, Madam.”

“Is he okay?” Sam asked.

“Shiny. He just overslept too.”

“There seems to be a lot of it going about.” He stood up and stretched, feeling the muscles in his back popping and wondered if he was getting old. “And if I’d thought about it I’d have had breakfast in bed myself.”

“You still could. Inara might be happy to have someone to shout at.”

“Ah. You tried to talk to her.”

“Just now.”

“And you survived.”

“The bruises will heal.”

“And I like having all my extremities where they are. Still, as people think I love her …” He smiled and wandered out of the kitchen.

Caleb looked from one adult to another, but as there appeared to be no more food arriving for the moment, he began to investigate his nostril with one pudgy finger. Without even appearing to look River pulled his hand away and stood up, lifting her son into her arms. “We shall go for a walk,” she announced. “Before it rains.”

“We?” Freya sat down.

“All the children. Apart from Ethan, who will be spending quality time with his Mama.”

“Thank you for being so thoughtful. And is it going to? Rain?”

River nodded. “At approximately 12:39 and 17 seconds.”

“I’m glad you’ve given up being accurate.”

Jia yan seemed to disapprove.” Picking up Caleb’s metal horse from the floor, she walked out, her bare feet making no sound.

Freya let her shoulders drop as she studied a few odd grains of salt on the old wooden table.

“Are you all right?” Mariah Boden asked.

“I’m fine.”

Mariah slid into the chair next to her. “She will be all right.”

Freya looked up. “Inara’s so … I know our relationship is so much better than it used to be, but she makes me want to throw things.”

“The people we love can do that to us.”

“I suppose they can.” Freya shook herself, wanting to change the subject. “And how’s Molly?”

“Still a little shaken, but Dr Nazir has been very kind.”

“He’s getting her to talk about it?”

“As much as she wants.”

“Yes, I understand that.” After what Xavier Wing did to her, Freya knew how much talking to Dr Yi had helped her, and the thought crossed her mind that perhaps Sam would listen as well if she asked. Still, that was for another day. “When things happen to you, you think people stop wanting to hear, that they’ve gone back to their own lives too soon. Molly’s lucky.”

“She’s lucky you were here. All of you. Otherwise …” Mariah swallowed hard.

Freya covered the older woman’s hand with hers. “She’s safe, and the man who hurt her won’t ever do it again.”

“I want to keep checking on her,” Mariah admitted. “Make sure she’s still in her room, or reading in the orchard.”

“That won’t go away. I feel the same way about my children anyway.”

“That makes you a good mother.”

“And you.”

Mariah coloured faintly, then pushed the chair back. Getting to her feet she was back to being Mrs Boden again. “I’ll finish that tray for you, Madam,” she said, straightening her apron. “And I’ll put extra, so that you can share young Master Ethan’s breakfast.”


They’d eaten, talked, laughed and dozed until the noise outside suggested the rest of the children had come back from their walk. Ethan hurriedly dressed and ran downstairs to join them in whatever nefarious plans Bethie had for the rest of the day, but Freya tarried a little longer in her son’s room, fingering the toys ranged on the cupboard.

At front and centre was the knitted alligator Hank had given to him a very long time ago, and while he still slept with it on occasion, she knew Ethan was trying to be more grown up and not take it to bed. Nevertheless, it still had pride of place, even over and above more recent acquisitions. Picking it up, she hugged it, wishing as hard as she could that her son wouldn’t stop being a child too soon.

“Frey? You okay?”

She turned to see the pilot standing in the open doorway and laughed a little. “Remembering.”

“I know how that comes over you.” He grinned. “Every time I see those booties of Ben’s Zoe’s got stashed in the drawer that she thinks I don’t know about. No wonder we’re all broody.”

She put the alligator back. “And seeing Inara doesn’t help.”

His humour dimmed. “Nope. You’re right about that. And I came to tell you I’ve found what you needed.”

“Her mother’s Cortex address?”

“Better than that.” He held up a small wafer, a rainbow of colours flickering from its edge. “It occurred to me – finally – that there was an easier way. Where’s Inara, any idea?”

Freya unfocussed. “She’s …” Her eyebrows raised a little. “She’s on Serenity. In her old shuttle.”

“Reliving glory days?”

“I hate to think.”

“Then this’ll work. Come on.” He hurried down the corridor.

She had to follow. “Hank, what are you talking about?”

“Inara’s link is pretty sophisticated – I know, I put it in. And maybe I’m too good at my job, because I made it as unhackable as I could. Then I thought, maybe I don’t have to.”

“Hank, you know how you’re feeling broody? If you don’t come to the point soon, you won’t be feeling anything for a long time.”

He stopped outside Inara’s bedroom door. “Redial.”


“Well, not technically, since she’s used it since then, but we know when she waved her mother, and all I need to do it trick the physical system into thinking that was the last, and …”


He grinned and opened the door. “Shall we?”

Inside Hank pulled the curtain aside and quickly slid the wafer into the Cortex link. Lights flashed and the screen started to glow.

“Is it working?” Freya asked.

He stared at the information scrolling down the side of the screen, then nodded. “I am so good.” He turned to her. “Coming through now.”

“Thanks, Hank.”

“Do you want me to stay? For moral support?”

“No. No, I’ll be fine.”

“If you’re sure.”

“I am. But I’d be grateful if you could keep an eye out and make sure Inara doesn’t come back for a few minutes.”

“No problem.” He backed out and closed the door quietly.

Freya took a deep breath just as the screen shimmered, the static coalescing into the head and shoulders of a woman, her dark hair piled high and decorated with tiny pearl drops. The resemblance to her daughter was less marked than in the capture Inara had shown her, a sharpness of her features not entirely offset by the carefully applied make-up, but Freya knew for sure this was Amita Amyan.

to be continued


Wednesday, April 29, 2015 7:27 PM


Ooh, secrets will out it seems with Freya roping Hank in to help with the detective work. Finally we may get to find out what Inara is hiding but will it help? Always wonderful to see another chapter from you Jane0904, now just need some lovely MAYA. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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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!]