BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

GOLDY

Goodnight and Goodbye (1/2)
Friday, December 8, 2006

The Second War of Unification has started. Where does the crew of Serenity go next? Darkish. M/I, various other pairings.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1991    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Title: Goodnight and Goodbye (1/2) Disclaimer: I am not Joss Whedon, and I do not own Firefly. Synopsis: The Second War of Unification has started. Where does the crew of Serenity go next? Darkish. Pairings: Mal/Inara, and hints of Jayne/Kaylee, Simon/Inara, Zoe/Wash, and Simon/Kaylee. Spoilers: Through the BDM. Rating: PG Words: 3, 325

***

Mal doesn’t believe Miranda was the cause of the second war of unification. Just the way of things, is all. Empires don’t last forever—first lesson of history his Ma ever taught him and it’s not a lesson he’ll be forgetting anytime soon.

Some say the Alliance never won the war in the first place, and Mal reckons there’s some sense to that. It’s a big ‘verse, and the Alliance proved time and again they didn’t have the manpower to police every inch of it.

It isn’t Miranda that started the war, but it sure as hell made a rallying cry. Mal can say with certainty that he wasn’t looking to start another war that day. He just wanted the truth.

Still, war it is—burning hulks of bombed buildings in Sihnon and Londinium prove it. Independents are smarter this time around. Causing fear first. Attacking innocents.

Truth is, won’t ever be that same war again, down in the pits of Hera, at Serenity. He likes to think he’s come a way since then—built himself a life.

***

They gather in the galley, the scratching of their chairs against the floor the only noise. Mal studies each of his crew in turn, taking a moment before speaking.

Jayne, staring down into his mug, uncharacteristically silent. Zoe, unsurprised, knowing lines etched into her face. Simon, determined, his calm almost unnerving. Little Kaylee, eyes wide, bottom lip protruding.

“We’re looking at a war,” Mal says, finally, voice too loud in the quiet of the galley.

Only Kaylee reacts. “How can you be sure?” she says, face telling him she’s not ready for things to change, that they can go on, no matter what sort of craziness the ‘verse throws at them.

“Seen it before, Kaylee,” he says. “Might be a different sort’a war this time around, but it don’t make it less the case.”

Kaylee wrings her hands together and manages a nod. Next to her, Simon is ridged, his stare blank.

Mal goes on. “Time for us to make a choice. Could try’n stay neutral—take jobs as they come.”

“Likely lead to gettin' blown out of the sky,” Zoe says.

No one responds to that. Mal’s eyes slide to where Inara usually sits, swallowing when he remembers her chair is empty.

He clears his throat. “Zoe’s right. Flying ain’t exactly the safest option.”

“Gonna be more shooting instead’a asking,” Zoe explains.

Hope dies in Kaylee’s eyes. She glances at Simon, but the doc’s face is a mask.

“What do you propose we do?” Simon asks.

“Could sell the ship,” Mal finally says. They all look surprised at that—except Zoe, of course. “Each take a share, do with it what we like. Time like this, boat like Serenity’d fetch us good coin.”

Kaylee’s eyes widen. “And let her get blown outta the sky? Serenity’s our home, Cap’n.”

“Ain’t so, little Kaylee,” Mal says, surprised by the strength of his words. Hell, hope is something they can all use a little of. “Home is what you make it, dong ma?”

Kaylee casts her eyes to the table. She nods. “Yes, Cap’n.”

Mal leans his weight on the table, gaze passing over each member of his crew. “Don’t like this anymore’n the rest of you, but we don’t got a lot of options left at this juncture. Best thing we can do is go our own way. We stay on this ship, we’ll surely end up dead, and that ain’t an option. Gonna do what we’ve always done. Find a way to keep living.”

***

Mal pauses outside the shuttle, taking a moment to ponder what he’ll say to Inara. Sell Serenity. Ai ya.

He doesn’t bother knocking. Inside, the shuttle is dark, illuminated by only a few candles. Inara’s sitting on the bed, her legs crossed, back straight—candlelight flickers over her face, darting over a few curls that have escaped her bun.

Mal shuts the shuttle door behind him, wincing at the noise. His feet are too loud as he moves across the carpet. What is it about this woman that can still make him feel about sixteen-years-old, all hormones and no charm?

“Inara?”

She presses a finger to her lips and gestures him forward. He sits hesitantly on the edge of the bed, fingers smudging at his knees.

Inara holds her position for what seems like an inordinately long time before relaxing. She slides off the bed and turns on the lights before blowing out the candles. Each movement is measured, a graceful dance. He doesn’t think he’ll ever get tired of it. Of watching her. Of wanting her so badly it can ache.

“It’s a prayer,” Inara whispers. “An old Companion ritual. I…” she trails off and shakes her head. “I thought it might help.”

“How are you doing?”

She rolls her eyes at the question, apparently finding it unworthy of an answer. He’s never been good at this stuff. Knowing what to say when things go wrong.

The bulletin had just hit the cortex airwaves, pictures of a smoking hulk that used to be the House Madrassa in Sihnon. Soon came the videos—snapshots of Alliance soldiers shifting through the rubble, looking for remains.

“It could have been me,” Inara says. “Likely, even, had I not…” She looks at him then, holds his gaze. “I suppose I should be thankful.”

“Well,” Mal says. “I am.”

Inara blinks, eyes trailing around the shuttle—their shuttle. Different now. Than it was. There’s a desk instead of a couch, paintings instead of drapes, and a shared bureau in the corner.

“All those people. Friends of mine. People I grew up with, who raised me. They’re dead.” Inara pauses, picking up one of the candles, black steam still rising from the wick. “By people calling themselves Browncoats.”

His swallow hurts. “I see.”

She sets the candle down. “I’m not accusing you of anything.”

“Funny how it sounds like one.”

She sighs, and brushes her hair back, wary eyes passing over him. “Mal, you know you’ve never approved of my profession. And you still identify with the Independents. Always will. The Alliance is just some evil empire to you.”

Only admirable restraint keeps him pointing out that it is an evil empire, River proves so, and she’s got no right denying it, not now.

“I don’t blow up buildings full of innocent people, Inara,” he says, finally. “Ain’t my way.”

“No, not unless there’s something worth stealing.”

“That’s not fair.”

She opens her mouth to retort and then falters, blinking away tears. He rises, taking a half-step forward, but she cuts him off with a shake of her head.

“They attacked the Guild, Mal,” she says, voice tearing—he can see that’s she’s barely been holding it together. “They walked into a house full of Companions and they blew them up.”

“I know what they did—”

Inara presses her lips together, reigning in her emotions. “You can’t possibly—”

“Why not? ‘Cause I ain’t never watched nobody die before? ‘Cause I didn’t come home to find Shadow razed down to the ground?”

Inara looks stricken and moves passed him to sit on the edge of the bed, burying her face in her hands. Her shoulders shake, and it makes Mal feel bad—she’s grieving, no denying so.

“Ain’t my fault, ‘Nara,” he finally says. “Got out the Miranda broadcast, but that don’t… this is not what I wanted.”

She looks up at him, red rimmed eyes, marks on her cheeks from her fingernails.

“Sometimes it’s easy to forget how we’re from different worlds,” she whispers. “Loving you the way I do—I just…”

“Just what?” Mal says, sensing his cue to move forward. He sits next to her, words jumbling together. “This don’t have to effect us.”

“A little late for that, isn’t it?”

“No,” he says. “Inara, I’m not what they are. Not never been partial to the Alliance, but that don’t make me a rebel or—”

“An outlaw?” she suggests.

“Not the way they’re running things now, blowing up innocents.”

“Maybe it’s the only way to get the message across,” Inara says, clasping her hands together. Her teeth bite down on her bottom lip until it turns white.

“Don’t want a part of it, then. Just want to go my own way, is all.” He pauses. “Not never gonna be an Alliance supporter, but I’m not… fighting ‘em again. Did so. Lost. Been doing my best to move on ever since.”

He doesn’t add that he’s some ten years older now, that a decade makes all the difference. Can’t move like he once could. No way could he tolerate living inside those trenches again, mud in his food, in his hair, skin, every time he breathed in.

Inara’s hands tap nervously along her knees and he can see she’s still holding back tears.

“What will you do?”

“Sell the ship,” he answers shortly. “Find a place.”

It’s her hand now. Resting on his knee, face moving closer to his, breath flowing along his cheek.

“Oh, Mal…” it’s a sigh, his name, the way she says it—been more of that kind lately than the other kind—the frustrated one.

“I don’t have much in the way of a plan.” It’s true. Don’t die. Hell, it’s even a step down from ‘keep flying.’ “Don’t know where… don’t know if there’s anyplace left in this ‘verse that’s still safe. Can’t promise you anything.”

Well. Maybe something. About how he’ll do better trying to control his temper—no more name calling, wouldn’t blame her for leaving if she ever heard the word “whore” come out of him again. Could promise to keep fighting, cause if there’s one thing he’s learned, it’s to never lay down and given in. Could promise to love her even when she’s old and wrinkled, joints aching and brown stains on her teeth. Could promise all those things.

“Don’t go much more’n myself to offer,” Mal says. “But I’m hoping you’ll come with me, all the same. Could maybe find a way, you and me.”

The way she looks at him makes him hope. Never would’ve reckoned it a possibility, a few years back. Him and Inara. Two things that didn’t have a right fitting together.

“That sound a little like a proposal,” she says.

He reaches out to touch her, fingers skimming over her lips and cheek. “Suppose it did.”

She smiles at his attentions, but her eyes are far away. Troubled. “But, Mal, selling Serenity?”

“Don’t got a choice.” Maybe he does. But Serenity’s not worth the sacrifice if she’s no longer free. “Time to move on.”

His words come out sort of scratchy sounding—harder to say them than he figured.

Inara’s face softens, and she moves to embrace him, arms curling around the back of his neck, cheek pressed to his.

He breathes her in, unsure which one of them needs the comfort more. And then he decides it doesn’t matter, because he can feel every breath she takes, almost hear her heartbeat.

***

Kaylee’s fiddling with the engine when Mal comes in. She’s always sensed when Serenity needs a little something extra. She’s not particularly fussy, Serenity—she just likes being looked after, is all.

“What you up to, little Kaylee?”

She doesn’t look up at him. “She ain’t been running so smooth, these last few days. Just wants the attention.” Kaylee pauses. “Anyhow, don’t suppose it matters. Not no more.”

Mal doesn’t answer, and she feels bad, knowing he’s making the only decision he can.

“Sorry, Cap’n,” she mutters.

His hand drops down on her shoulder, giving it a squeeze. “Ain’t gonna be easy for any of us, mei-mei.”

Easy for Simon, Kaylee thinks, but she doesn’t say so. She’s been trying to think about Simon… less. Sometimes it works, and sometimes he pops in when she doesn’t want him to.

“Could maybe come with me and ‘Nara,” Mal says. “Won’t be easy, settling somewhere. Could use a hand.”

Kaylee feels a rush of affection for the Captain. Always looking out for them, same as always.

“Ain’t saying I don’t wanna,” Kaylee says, “but I think I gotta try it on my own first.”

Mal nods, eyes proud in a way that makes her flush. She doesn’t feel ready for it, going off on her on. Still, she tries to smile at him, fiddling absently with the engine.

“Always have a place for you, if you need it,” he finally says.

“Xie-xie, Cap’n,” she says quietly.

“You find yourself a decent job, Kaylee. Somewhere that ain’t half so dangerous as this. Shame to see all that natural talent go to waste.”

Kaylee nods. “I’ll try, Cap’n.” She clears her throat, mustering the courage to continue. “I’m really glad you got Inara with ya.’”

Kaylee doesn’t say so aloud, but she always worried the Captain would end up alone. Likes to pretend he’s the unattached sort, but Kaylee knows that’s just not true.

“It is something, ain’t it?” Mal says.

“Not so,” Kaylee says, straightening. “Always knew you two was meant for each other. Just too stubborn to see it.”

Mal falters—looking unbearably sad. For just a moment. But then he pulls himself together and hugs her. Tightly.

***

Simon places each med in his bag with practiced efficiency, leaving the shelves bare behind him. As long as he keeps moving, he’s not thinking, and when he’s not thinking, he can keep moving.

“You sure about this, doctor?”

Simon freezes, a shot hanging dumbly in his hand before he shoves it into his open bag and puts it on the hospital bed. “Yes.”

He’s not accustomed to speaking with Zoe. No one is—not really. Not even Mal. Not since Miranda.

“Don’t suit you,” Zoe says bluntly. “You know what war is?”

“I have a pretty good idea.”

Zoe shakes her head. “It’s killin’. It’s killin’ and hoping you and yours is the side that can stand longer.”

He pauses at her description, and then slowly zips up the bag. Only a few items. Meds that will fetch him enough coin to get him where he needs to go. Along with his cut of Serenity, of course.

“I know what it means,” Simon says.

He doesn’t much want to fight in a war. He took an oath as a doctor, after all. He thinks that maybe, maybe if the Shepherd were still alive, maybe he could have said something to change his mind. Book always had that way about him.

“Shame,” Zoe says. “Could do something with yourself, doctor. Ain’t too late.”

Too late—it’s become the theme of his life, hasn’t it? He thought he’d done the right thing, swooping in and rescuing River from Alliance clutches. But if he’d acted faster—if he’d stopped their torture only a few months earlier…

Then. Then he might not have been too late.

“I really think it is,” Simon says. He looks up at her. “Where do you go when you stop caring?”

Zoe’s eyes cool as she studies him, any sympathy she might have had draining away. “Tell you what you don’t do, doctor. And that’s line up to kill other people.”

“I thought you didn’t care for the Alliance,” Simon says. “That’s your whole shtick, isn’t it? You and Mal—parading around you coats after all this time, sticking to your perfect war of ideals. The Independents back in your day weren’t exactly known for their nobility, either.”

Zoe’s nod is barely a jerk of her head. “You do what you see as right, then.”

Her boots squeak across the floor as she leaves. He watches her go, and then unzips his medical bag, going back to his medicine cabinet.

***

Kaylee fiddles with the zipper of her jump suit, silently watching Jayne lift weights. He does a few sets, ignoring her, grunting with the effort. Making more noise than is necessary, Kaylee suspects.

“Jayne?”

He stops pressing weights to look at her, sitting up so his elbows rest along his knees.

Kaylee twists her fingers together, nervous now that she’s got his attention. “Hey there,” she says, trying to smile. It doesn’t work too well, and she starts getting all sniffly.

“Aww, hell,” Jayne says. He looks wildly around before settling on his weights. “You wanna bench press some?”

Kaylee wipes her nose. She stares at him before moving her eyes to the weights. “I dunno. Sort of looks heavier than my own self.”

“Nah,” Jayne says. “Don’t gotta be.” He pauses. “Could spot ya’.”

Kaylee gives a watery smile. “Okay.”

***

“Ain’t so hard,” Kaylee says. Feels kind of nice, too. Arms are sore, but she imagines her muscles growing from the exercising, taking it in like food, tiny particles moving together and getting stronger.

“Hell, girl, ain’t so half as weak as you look,” Jayne says, almost with approval.

“It’s only ‘cause you’re helping me so,” Kaylee says, beaming up at him.

Jayne frowns. “Don’t think Mal would like it much, you getting squished.”

Kaylee’s smile slips at the mention of Mal. She doesn’t want to get all weepy again.

“What are you gonna do, Jayne?” she asks, sitting up and stretching her arms. “Feel sort’a lost, I guess. Cap’n said I could go with him and ‘Nara… but they got themselves a change at a life together. Wouldn’t be right.”

Jayne grunts. “Ain’t thinking on it.”

“Course ya’ are,” Kaylee says. “Just as bad as the rest of us—not knowing what to do without Serenity.”

“Ain’t so,” Jayne says.

“You like it here,” Kaylee continues. “‘Cause you got your own bunk, and Mal don’t bother you none when you go out to ‘em whorehouses. And you like the rest of us too, whether you’ll say so or not.”

Jayne opens his mouth to respond, hesitates, and finally says, “Don’t care for the doctor.”

Kaylee looks down at her hands. “Don’t make what I said any less true.”

They sit in huffy silence until Kaylee hops off the weight bench, resolve in her eyes.

“Want to go with you,” she says. “Could be useful. Got a natural talent for machines…” she trails off, voice wavering. “Sides, don’t want to be alone.”

She almost swears she can see him hoping, but then he scowls. “Can’t have the doctor, so you’ll settle for me, huh?”

“No!” Kaylee says, eyes widening. “That ain’t it at all.” She moves closer to him, happy when he doesn’t back away. “Simon ain’t… just ‘cause we tried to make it work don’t make us fated. He ain’t… ain’t been the same since River killed herself. Been crazed. Taken to blaming the Alliance. Sometimes I don’t hardly recognize him. Don’t want to, neither.”

Jayne looks tempted, but he screws his face up again. “Yeah, well, just ‘cause the doc’s loony don’t make me cute and cuddly.”

“Sure ya’ are,” Kaylee says, eyes growing. “You’re always looking out for me… keeping me safe.”

Jayne frowns, mild panic coming into his eyes. “Ain’t me—Mal does. Not me.”

“Do, too!” Kaylee says.

“Gorramit, girl, ain’t my style. Used to living on the edge. Can’t do that with you hangin’ around.”

“See?” Kaylee says. “You do care. And anyway, been up against danger more’n once, Jayne. Ain’t some tiny girl needs protecting.”

Jayne surveys her up and down. “Just ‘cause you can bench press a few pounds, don’t make you frightening.”

Kaylee punches him on the arm. “So whaddya’ say? Could be fun, going off together. Find us a job away from the fighting.”

Jayne scratches his chin, looking up at the ceiling before focusing on her again. His eyes linger on the teddy bear sown onto her overalls. Makes Kaylee blush, makes her feel too young for him. She almost misses his nod, right before he settles back on the weight bench. Almost.

“You want me to spot?” she asks.

Jayne shrugs his shoulder. “If you don't got anywhere else better to be.”

"Don't," Kaylee says softly.

COMMENTS

Friday, December 8, 2006 6:07 PM

REGINAROADIE


Wow. That's some pretty deep and dark stuff you got here. River killing herself, Mal deciding not to fight a second civil war and Browncoats becoming terrorists. You realy know how to grab one's attention.

I'd like to see this second half, and soon.

Friday, December 8, 2006 6:51 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


It's a troubling thought to think...but I doubt the opposition to the Alliance that would spring up after the events of the BDM would be all manner of honourably "ideal." Conventional warfare proved inefficient and unsuccessful...so bring on the guerrilla warfare. It's horrific, but I would have to say it's damn prescient to something that Joss would have done with a 3rd or 4th season (whatever season would have come after his season-long exploration of events that got compressed to fit within 2 hours for the movie).

However, what really makes me wonder was what drove River to commit suicide? She was finally free or mostly free of the knowledge about Miranda and the manifestations of the victims' voices (cuz I get the feeling River's brain created the voices she heard of the Miranda settlers from exposure till viewing the message from Dr. Caron) but she eventually kills herself? Hmm...something bigger was afoot:(

BEB

Friday, December 8, 2006 7:10 PM

EMPIREX


A Goldyfic was exactly what I needed tonight!

But this was so sad! I loved the Mal/Inara interaction, and I felt so bad for Kaylee and Simon... *sniff* I could totally see how losing River could destroy their relationship.

Not a Jaylee fan, but in this story it worked and made me smile. I would hate both of them to be alone. And Simon, actually going off to fight? Wow.

I only wish there were a little more Zoe. I'm dying to know what her plans were. And why River killed herself...

So many questions, I think this calls for a sequel. Or a prequel.

Friday, December 8, 2006 11:33 PM

BRITCHICK


Wow, this was really well characterized, well written, and gripping.

So many questions, looking forward to the next installment

Friday, December 8, 2006 11:55 PM

AMDOBELL


I'm trying to think where I read this before, just as good this time as last but so unbearably sad all the same. Hate the notion of River being dead, of Simon not caring about anything any more and the ship and crew parting company. It's more like a slow death and that is real sad. The only bright spot is that Mal and Inara are together. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, December 9, 2006 3:27 PM

PLATONIST


Dark, sad and unpredictable...very Joss!

I'm not much of a Jaylee fan, but I
don't see her with Simon for a long term either... I do hope she reconsiders
Mal's offer.

Please post more!! ASAP!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 7:21 PM

TAMSIBLING


Wow ... just wow! That was amazing. I can't imagine Simon going off to fight, but if he truly just doesn't care anymore what difference would it make.


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