Secrets - Part XX
Saturday, April 25, 2015

“No. You don’t get to play word games with me, Inara. Mal, his crew … perhaps I can understand you not wanting to burden them with this. But me?” The pain was evident in his voice and now in his expression. “Me, Inara? I gave up everything to be with you. And I would again. But you don’t trust me enough to tell me something this important. Don’t you think I had a right to know what my child is doing to you?” [Maya. Post-BDM. Inara's secret is revealed. And don't faint because I've posted another chapter in less than a year!]


Amita Amyan barely glanced at the screen, and only to check the incoming caller ID. “What is it, Inara? I thought we’d made ourselves perfectly …” She stopped and stared. “Who are you?”

“Freya Reynolds, Madam Amyan. I’m a friend of your daughter’s.”

“How did you get this address? It’s unlisted.”

“I need your help. Inara needs your help.”

Amita raised an eyebrow by a millimetre. “The baby?”

Not her grandchild, Freya noted. “Indirectly.”

“She waved me. Told me she was pregnant.” She lifted a hand as if she’d picked up something disgusting. “I knew Inara was headstrong, but really.”

“She’s sick.”

“And what do you expect me to do about it? Hold her hand?”

Freya felt anger building in the pit of her stomach like a stone starting to glow with heat. “She’s your daughter.”

“And I’m the other side of the system.”

Taking a breath to give herself a moment to not say the words bubbling in her throat, Freya consciously opened her fists. “Did she tell you what was wrong? Why she’s sick?”

“She didn’t have to.”

“I don’t understand.”

“The family curse, I would imagine.”

“Madam Amyan –”

“Honeywell’s Disease. It sounds almost pleasant, doesn’t it? It isn’t, I can assure you. But Inara could easily have avoided it.”

“You’re saying this is her fault?”

“She didn’t have to get pregnant. If she’d stayed a Companion this wouldn’t even be an issue.”

“If she didn’t know –”

“Of course she knew. I’ve never kept it a secret from her, far from it. I’ve warned her since she was a child. It’s the reason I didn’t want any more. The whole family knows about Honeywell’s.”

“I don’t.”

“Then you are lucky. Inara never wanted children until she found herself pregnant by that … whatever his name was.” Amita patted her hair as if the dead father of her grandson was totally immaterial.

Right that moment Freya was glad there was only the Cortex link between them, as she wasn’t sure she could have controlled her own actions. “Gregor Andreyev.”

“Yes. Him. But don’t let her trick you into believing she didn’t understand what it would do.”

Licking dry lips, Freya asked, “Do you have any medical records, Inara’s patient history that might –”

“Ask the Guild. They know all about it, of course, but I doubt they’ll be forthcoming.”

“Madam Amyan, don’t you care about Inara at all?”

The older woman stiffened. “How dare you suggest –”

“You haven’t once asked how she is. How we know.”

For a moment Freya thought the wave was going to disconnect, or at least combust, then Amita Amyan looked a little ashamed.

“I’m … sorry.” The words were wrung from her. “I imagine the symptoms are presenting themselves. But you have to understand my position.”

“No, I don’t. You’re her mother. You should be in pieces thinking your little girl is ill.”

“She’s not been my little girl for a long time.”

“We always are to our mothers.” Freya knew this from first hand, having not seen her own mother for thirty years, and when they did finally meet being treated at first as if she was still a child.

“Miss Reynolds –”


Amita inclined her head. “Mrs Reynolds, I wish I could feel the way you think I should. But when Inara left the Guild it …” She knew what she was going to say was not likely to be acceptable so let the sentence hang.

“She’s your daughter. I know she waved to tell you about your grandchild. She cares.”

“Do you have any children, Mrs Reynolds?”

“Two. A son and a daughter.”

“And you love them?”


“And will you still love them when they disappoint you?”

“Nothing they ever do will make that happen.”

“Then I envy you. I do not have your … depth.” Amita straightened her shoulders. “I would, however, be obliged if you could keep me apprised of Inara’s progress.” She leaned forwards and the screen went blank.

Freya stood open-mouthed, then reached blindly for something to throw. It was unfortunate that it had to be a candlestick, and her aim was too good. The Cortex screen cracked and shorted in a display of sparks.

“You okay?” Mal asked, sticking his head into the room in time to see the screen smoking gently. “Or did it leap up and attack you?”

“People can make me so angry!”

“Generally or anyone specific?”

“Just … everyone.”

“I kinda figured that.” He looked at her hands, both of them in tight fists with the knuckles white. “You wanna throw something else? ‘Cause there’s a hideous vase out in the hall that I’m sure would shatter satisfactorily.”


“White, with pale blue flowers on it.” He gave a theatrical shudder. “Anaemic looking.”

“Mal, that’s worth a lot of money.”

“Then even more satisfactory to smash the thing.”

She glared at him then took a deep breath, her hands loosening as she dropped her head. “Cao, Mal.”

“What is it?” He stepped closer. “Frey, honey, tell me.”

“We need to see Simon.”


River plucked another long grass stem, catching the end into the braid she was creating. It was going to be a hat for Caleb, and possibly one for Jayne. Her son seemed to have inherited his father’s delicate skin, and had been a little red from the sunshine, so …

Oh. She looked up in time to see Freya stride out of the house, Mal at her heels, and head for Serenity. Gently, as no more than the touch of a spider’s web on a soft summer breeze, she let herself peek … oh dear.

All thoughts of hats and sunburn forgotten, she got to her feet and followed silently.


In the cargo bay Hank looked up as Freya and Mal stepped up the ramp. “She’s still up there,” he said, did a double take at their expressions. “Everything okay?”

“Where’s Simon?”

“Infirmary. He’s still … Frey, what’s going on?”


Simon rubbed his eyes, then turned at footsteps. “Hey,” he said, smiling tiredly. “I don’t have any more news yet, but I’m still deciding what to –”

Freya broke in. “Honeywell’s Disease.”


“Test for Honeywell’s. Can you?”

“I don’t know. I’d need to …” He picked up his small Cortex link, opening it but pausing before he activated anything. “Why Honeywell’s?”

“I just spoke to Inara’s mother.”

A chill settled over him, and he glanced at Mal standing in the infirmary doorway, his arms crossed. “And she said …”

“She called it the family curse.”

Simon stared, then input his request. “I’ve never seen it myself,” he said, talking just to fill the empty spaces between seconds. “It’s rare, a genetic disorder … I don’t even know I’d recognise it if I saw it.”

“You got enough of ‘Nara’s blood to test if you can?” Mal asked.

“Perhaps. Maybe. It depends on –” The results of his search beeped and he quickly scrolled through the information. “Yes. I think so.”

“How long?”

“It’ll take me ten minutes to set up, then … half an hour?”

“Do it.”

Simon nodded, starting to pull things from his cupboards. “Although all the symptoms seem to tie up, at least all we know about.”

“Is it something anyone else can catch?”

“No.” He stopped and looked up, aware the bluntness of the question was hiding the captain’s concern for the rest of the crew, and in particular the children. “It’s genetic, Mal. An error in the DNA sequencing that is passed through the female line. As I said, it’s rare, and I only know of half a dozen families who are affected. And I wouldn’t have heard of it at all, except that I had a tutor who was an expert in abstract diseases.”

“It’s only the women who are affected?” Freya asked quietly.

“Yes. It’s in the male DNA but doesn’t –”

“How come it’s showing up now?” Mal interrupted.

Simon spoke as calmly as he could. “I thought you realised. It’s the pregnancy. I’d need to check the specifics, but the hormones switch it on. If Honeywell’s is in the family, then this test is just going to be a confirmation. Professor Jeunet was emphatic about that. Once the hormones are detectable, there are no exceptions.”

“’Cept Inara was pregnant before. With Colm.”

“I know. I told you, I don’t remember the specifics, but I think there was something about it being the second pregnancy that’s the killer.” He realised what he’d said. “Mal …”

“Is it? A killer?”

“Yes.” Simon let his doctor’s persona take over. “It’s fatal in all cases.” He turned back to his task so as not to see their expressions. “There’s not even any guarantee Inara will carry the baby to term, that the effects won’t make her abort, or even that she’ll live long enough to give birth.”

“Simon …” Freya swallowed. “And if the baby is a girl?”

“She’ll be in the same position, just like Inara.” He shook his head slowly. “How could a woman not tell her own daughter about it? Not warn her?”

“She did.”

Simon spun on his heel to stare at Freya. “What?”

“She knew. Her mother said she’d always known what the risks of pregnancy are. In fact Inara always used to say she didn’t intend ever having children. Until she met Colm’s father. And now Sam.”

Simon went to respond, but Mal’s voice, quiet and dangerous, broke in before he could.

“She knew? All that time on board, and after … she knew?”

“Mal –”

He turned on her. “We coulda been doing something. Using that brain of the doc’s to … I don’t know, find a cure, but she didn’t say a word? Even now?” His hands were in fists. “When she’s dying?” Suddenly he turned and strode out.

“Mal …” Freya glanced at Simon who looked helpless, for once, then followed her husband.

“No.” River stood in the cargo bay, blocking her path.

“Get out of my way.” She watched Mal jump up the stairs two at a time, his boots ringing on the metal treads, before disappearing into shuttle one.

“No.” The young woman shook her head emphatically, her long dark hair whipping around her head to underline it. “She needs to be told. To hear.”

“He’s too angry.” Freya tried to push by her but iron fingers closed on her left wrist, and she could feel the bones grinding. “River, please.”

The grip increased and she gasped in pain.

River immediately released her, stepping back to see Freya cradling her arm and trying to catch her breath. “Mu qin …”

“It’s all right,” Freya said through tight lips. “You just don’t know your own strength.”

“I’m sorry.” She tried to Read the older woman, but Freya’s walls were suddenly high and strong.

“It’s okay.” Freya took a deep breath. “Where’s Sam?”


“Sam. He needs to know, before Inara kills Mal.”

“Oh. By the lake. Thinking.”

“Okay. Good. Now go find Jayne and sit quietly for a while.”

“You’re not going after Mal?”

“No. I think that horse has bolted.” She managed a smile then walked down the ramp into the soft rain. Once out of sight she allowed the pain to show on her face, but knew a broken wrist could be dealt with later. Right now, Sam needed to go and stop a war.


Mal wondered if he had ever been so angry. “You think ‘cause I found Frey, I stopped caring about you? You figured it was all right to wait and die before you told us? Just how crazy are you, Inara?”

It said a lot for Inara’s character that she stood her ground, pretty much the same place in the shuttle where she had told him, all those years ago, that she had supported Unification. Only her hands clasped tightly in front of her rounded stomach gave any indication of the emotions running wild within her. “It’s nothing to do with you.”

“If not me, then how about Sam? When were you planning on telling that man you say you love that you’re dying?”

“It’s because I love him I wanted to shield him.”

“No, ‘Nara. You just wanted to play the martyr. Dying for a cause.”

“And you’d know all about that, wouldn’t you?”

“At least mine was worth fighting for!” Mal began to pace the small space, barely able to get any distance before having to turn back.

“And this is my child!” She could feel the anger building inside, no matter what she did to dampen it down. “Can’t you get it through your thick skull that I was … I am desperate to have this baby?”

“And if it’s a girl?” He stopped and stabbed a forefinger towards her. “You gonna condemn her to the kind of end you’re planning for yourself?”

“I won’t let it get that far.”

Diyu, Inara! You’re insane!”

“Stop shouting at me and go away!”

“This is my ship, my shuttle. It ain’t your boudoir anymore, so you can’t order me out.”

“Fine. Then I’ll leave.”

She pressed past him and stepped out into the cargo bay, hurrying down the stairs as fast as she could.

He followed, unwilling to leave it alone. “’Nara, this ain’t finished.”

“Yes, it is, Mal.”

“You’re gonna come to the infirmary, and Simon’s gonna take all the blood he needs, do all his tests –”

“There’s no point.” She stepped out into the rain and started towards the house, and a tiny part of her brain wondered why the drops didn’t just flash into vapour on her heated skin.

“Gorramit, Inara.” He strode after her, grabbing her arm and turning her around. “This is your life!”

“Yes. My life. My decision. Not yours.” The anger inside bubbled over. “When are you going to get it into that thick skull of yours that I’m not part of your crew, that you don’t have to take me under your wing and protect me?”

“You’re not showing any sign of being able to do that yourself, ‘Nara. You should’ve told me, told –”

She took a step towards him, her eyes hard. “Why, Mal? Why are you so angry? Is it because I’m sick, dying, or is it because I didn’t tell the great Malcolm Reynolds?”

“We could’ve maybe done something. Simon might’ve been able to –”

“You think doctors haven’t looked into this? Some of the best in the Core have spent their lives working on the problem. And if I had told you, all you’d have done is tried to talk me out of it.”

“A’course I would!”

She could tell by the look on his face that he was honestly worried about her, that the anger was just how it was coming out, and suddenly she lost the will to fight. “Well, it’s a moot point now, don’t you think?” She caressed her unborn child, feeling the fabric of her top clinging to her skin. “There’s nothing anyone can do. Except pray.”

“And when it’s too late? When you collapse that last time and don’t wake up? How do you think everyone’s gonna feel then?”

“I thought I’d be okay.”

She’d spoken so quietly Mal wasn’t sure he’d heard above the sound of the rain on Serenity’s hull. “What?”

“I thought …” She shook herself. “Mal, I am grateful you care about me, but there’s nothing you can do.”

“’Nara …”

“Mal.” Sam’s voice reached them both, and they looked around to see him striding towards them, Freya a few paces behind. “Mal, please leave. Inara is no longer your responsibility.”

“She ain’t ever stopped, Sam, not since the first time she set foot on Serenity.”

Sam exhaled slowly. “I’ll grant that. But now, this … is not yours to deal with.” He gave a quick half-smile that flicked across his features so fast it was only a shadow. “Besides, your own wife needs you. I think she’d like the company while Simon sets her wrist.”

“What?” Mal immediately felt a mixture of guilt and a different kind of anger warm his belly. He glanced at Freya. “Did she fall?”

“Go and ask her.”

Mal glared at him then stepped towards his wife. “That right?” he asked, reaching up to wipe the rain from her cheeks. “You’re hurting?”

Freya shrugged, then winced as the movement jarred the wrist she had cradled against her chest. “A little.”

He smiled gently. “I don’t know. I think I was right before when I wondered if you and the doc had something going on. The number of times you end up in the infirmary, just so you can get him to lay his hands on you.”

She laughed, just a low chuckle. “And if he did lay his hands on me in that way, we’d be looking for a new medic.”

“Damn straight. And he’d be in need of his own services, ‘cept he’d be bleeding too much to be able to staunch his own wounds.” He put his arm around her shoulders. “Only thing is, I figure you love me too much to make me do that.”

“I think I might.”

Together they walked back to Serenity, and as they passed Mal looked at Sam. “You’d best be getting ‘Nara inside ‘fore she melts.”

“I intend to.”

Sam watched them climb the ramp, then said quietly, “I envy them.”

“And I don’t want to fight.” Inara put her hand on his arm. “Please.”

He looked at her, seeing the rivulets of rain running from her hair, her clothes clinging to her and accentuating her pregnancy. “Mal’s right – you need to get changed before you catch pneumonia.” He crooked his elbow, and after a moment she hooked her hand through it and allowed him to lead her into the house.

Twice Inara went to speak as they ascended the stairs, but both times closed her mouth again, the words dying in her throat. Entering the bedroom she stripped quickly and slid on her robe before sitting down at the dressing table, tutting at her reflection.

“I’ll need to start again,” she murmured, picking up a pad and running it over her cheeks.

Sam didn’t answer, just went around the room putting on the lights and closing the windows against the rain, evidently ignoring the state of his own clothes.

Inara watched his reflection in the mirror, then said, “Are you going to tell me off as well?”

“Do I have to?” Sam looked at the fire, all ready to have a lighted taper set to it. “Are you cold?”

“No.” She turned in her seat to look directly at him. “I gather everyone knows.”

“I don’t know about everyone.” He sat in one of the high-backed chairs and rested his elbows on the arms, steepling his fingers in front of his mouth. “But they should, don’t you think?”

“No. No, I don’t.”

He didn’t respond, just gazed at her, his dark eyes thoughtful in his olive face.

“Stop that,” she commanded.


“That. The counsellor’s trick. Expecting me to fill the silence. It won’t work.”

“I wouldn’t say that.”

Her eyes narrowed. “You’re so … calm.”

“Calm?” He stared at her. “You think you know me and you say I’m calm?”

“Freya must have told you. I don’t know how she found out, but –”

“She waved your mother.”

“She did what?” Inara glanced at the Cortex screen, only now noticing it was uncovered, and its surface starred and cracked. “Did she break it?”

“She was worried about you, Inara.” He took a deep breath. “And she said she’ll fix it.”

“She can’t fix everything.” Inara turned back to her mirror, continuing to remove the make-up that had run. “I’m surprised she didn’t Read me,” she said with a vicious swipe across her eyelids.

“She wouldn’t, even when I asked her to.”

This had Inara turning fully on the chair to glare at him. “You asked her to … to violate me like that?”

“You wouldn’t talk to me. And as you said, I’m a counsellor, and I know when people are lying to me.”

“I didn’t lie to you.”

“A sin of omission is still a sin.”

“You’re going to play the religion card now?”

“No.” He sighed heavily. “And it shouldn’t had to have taken Freya waving your mother to find out you’re dying.”

She swallowed, but said, “We’re all dying, Sam. From the day we’re born.”

He shot to his feet. “No. You don’t get to play word games with me, Inara. Mal, his crew … perhaps I can understand you not wanting to burden them with this. But me?” The pain was evident in his voice and now in his expression. “Me, Inara? I gave up everything to be with you. And I would again. But you don’t trust me enough to tell me something this important. Don’t you think I had a right to know what my child is doing to you?”

She put her arms around her bump, protecting the life within. “We want this baby.”

“Not at the expense of your life!” His voice rang through the house and he had to stop and take a breath, closing his eyes for a moment to try and centre himself. When he finally looked back at her his gaze was icy. “You were willing to die, and not let me know why, or if there was something I could do to stop it. I would never have spoken about wanting a child if I’d known.”

“That’s why I didn’t tell you.”

“No, Inara. You didn’t tell me because you were selfish. You wanted to keep it to yourself, to play the martyr.”

His words, echoing Mal’s from just a short while ago, cut into her like a knife. “No, Sam –”

“And now it’s too late. Where we could have talked about it, discussed it, perhaps even found a different way …” He shook his head. “I need time to think. I’m sorry, Inara.” Turning on his heel he strode out, the door banging closed behind him.

Inara stared, her mouth open, then gave a mewing sound as tears spilled down her cheeks and she buried her face in her hands.

to be continued


Sunday, April 26, 2015 9:52 AM


Wow! This is great stuff, Thanks

Sunday, April 26, 2015 1:21 PM


Wow Its Christmas in April!

This is a typical Inara move, she really is just like Mal in a lot of ways. Always thinks she knows best and going to do what she believes is right no matter the consequences.

So we have a big medical mystery for Simon to try to solve, and somewhere in the background of all this is the assassination lists they uncovered and dealing w all that.

I cant communicate just how much I love the way you set the slow burn, take your time with these stories and then BAM! drop the big hammer on everybody.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 12:08 PM


I have faith in the Doc and Mal.I think it will all work out in the end. Great story

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 7:54 PM


Yay, another great chapter! What is Inara so afraid of that she would rather die than be truthsome with folk? Bad enough had she not known the consequences of allowing herself to fall pregnant again but to deliberately do so makes me think there may be some deeper underlying reason for wanting that connection with a new life, but oh at what cost! I have faith like Waffenmac that Simon will find a way to put things right for Inara medically but she needs to see a shrink (not Sam) to get her head on straight. People care about her and that is something to be grateful for not hide from. Love your writing, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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