Wish I Was Somebody Else, 1/26
Saturday, January 13, 2007

A Firefly adventure set after Serenity (the movie). It's 26 chapters long, complete, and features every member of the crew except Book (who does get mentioned). All movie events are intact, yet some things are not as they seemed. Overall rating is PG-13, for mild language, some innuendo and minor, non-graphic sexual content, and 'adult themes.'


Author's Note: I had this piece all planned out, but was debating whether to actually write it. Then, I picked up a copy of Serenity: The Official Visual Companion, in which Joss, in an interview, is asked about ‘certain shocking events’ toward the end of the movie. He says that a) it was never his intent to leave any man or woman behind, b) it’s possible that all crew members could return, if there is a sequel and that c) no magic amulets are allowed. Well, if he’s going to leave that window unlocked, I’m going to throw it wide open. All movie events are intact. And yet, all is not as it seemed . . .

1. Inevitable Betrayal

After Miranda

There was nowhere among the living that Serenity could go.

All of her safe harbors were destroyed. None of her business contacts would touch her, unless to turn her in; she was too hot. In the wake of the Miranda broadwave, it wasn’t just the Tams whose faces papered the Cortex from Ariel to Whitefall, it was all of them: Mal and Zoe, Kaylee and Jayne. Everyone except Inara, who through the power of her Companion registration or some inexplicable oversight by the Operative, was not listed among Serenity’s crew.

Unable to walk among the living, Serenity went to the dead.


Every single dock that protruded from the Sanchez brothers’ orbital repair facility had been destroyed by the Alliance. So Serenity hung in space outside the wrecked space station, and her crew suited up in the cargo bay, preparing to cross through the black.

“Kaylee, you and Jayne are after fuel cells and engine parts,” Mal said, standing with his suit helmet hanging from his right hand. “Anything we might need now or later; anything we might be able to use. We’re the first ones here because we were the first to know, but that won’t be true later, so we have to get what we can get now.”

Kaylee nodded bleakly.

“Simon, Inara -- medical supplies and commissary. Again, anything we might could use, now or later. Get it all. We’ll find places to stow it. Don’t know how long it might be ‘til the next job, and we all want to keep eating until then.”

Simon was standing next to Kaylee, fiddling with his suit. For a smart guy, he sure seemed to have a lot of trouble with a space suit, Mal noted. He glanced up long enough to acknowledge Mal’s instructions, then went back to his fiddling. Inara, who managed somehow to make even a spacesuit look alluring, murmured her assent.

“Zoe,” Mal said, but when he turned his gaze to her, he stopped. “What?”

“They were our friends. Sir.” Zoe said.

Mal sighed, shifting his helmet from his right hand to his left. “I know it. And I don’t like picking their bones any better than you do.”

“They’re dead because of us,” Zoe said.

Mal’s jaw clenched. “I know it,” he repeated. “But no living soul in the ‘verse will lift a finger to help us right now, and there’s no knowing how long that will last. We got no friends will help us, ‘cepting them that’s already dead. So we got to ask them for this one last favor, Zoe. Got no choice. ‘Less we want to stop flying and die, ourselves.”

Zoe looked down at the deckplates. “How long?” she said.

“How long ‘til what?” Mal demanded, and she looked back up at him, her eyes hard and cold.

“How long ‘til the next job, sir? You really think there’s going to be a next job? Sir? Or is this our life, now – picking the bones of the dead, running and hiding, sleeping with one eye open and looking over our shoulders and never speaking to anyone?”

This wasn’t like Zoe, Mal thought, pained. Not to challenge him in front of everyone this way; not to question his authority where the crew might hear. “I don’t know,” he said, matching her tone, “How long ‘til I get my first mate back from the graveyard I left her standing in?” He regretted the words immediately; knew how deeply they must cut, despite the fact that Zoe’s face didn’t change. And his accusation wasn’t even accurate, he admitted in some deep part of himself; this hadn’t begun with Wash’s death – a loss so recent that even Mal hadn’t yet grown used to seeing River in the pilot’s chair, or stopped expecting Wash to saunter in from the bridge at mealtimes. Mal had seen the seeds of this defiance nearly two weeks ago, after the heist on Lilac. She’d taken him to task then, for leaving a man behind. Privately, of course, but she’d openly defied him just a few days later, at Haven, when he’d declared that they would disguise Serenity as a Reaver ship in order to escape the Alliance. They had all defied him, actually. He’d held them then. He could hold them now. But not if Zoe was against him. It was Jayne, surprisingly, who saved the situation. “Hell,” the big mercenary said, “That ain’t so different from what we always done. Sleeping with one eye open and all. Picking the bones of the dead. Just they ain’t usually our friends. And it ain’t like we never gone a stretch between jobs.” He clapped his helmet on and turned for the lock.

“Jayne’s right,” Mal agreed quickly. “When we’re done here, we’ll get out of this part of space for a while. Go somewhere we ain’t so well known, try to build something new. Might take a while, but what we’ll pick up here will help. So let’s get to work.” He put his own helmet on, and followed Jayne. The others trailed after.

Last to follow was Zoe.


They worked until Serenity could hold no more. Foodstuffs sat in boxes around the edges of the kitchen; Kaylee could barely walk through the engine room. Simon took over the seating area outside the med bay to store the supplies and equipment he found. Mal and Zoe, working together in a silence that would never, before, have been uncomfortable, filled the cargo bay with things that might have some market value, if they could find anyone who’d buy from them. And when they were done, Mal grudgingly allowed yet another funeral, this time for the Sanchez brothers and their crew, whose bodies had watched mutely while their facility was stripped bare by the friends who felt the guilt for their deaths.

No one spoke as they stowed their suits and dispersed into the ship.

Exhausted and hollow, Mal made for his quarters, but he couldn’t stand to be alone the way his thoughts were running. Alone with his own silence was no better than alone with Zoe’s silence, right now. So instead he continued to the bridge, where River had waited with Serenity, keeping watch, keeping ready, in case they had to run. River’s silence was more comfortable now, since Miranda; she was the only one who’d seemed to draw more healing than hurt from that awful place, and Mal found her company comforting.

She was sitting cross-legged in the pilot’s chair when Mal stepped onto the bridge. He shook his head, wondering how she could do that without wrenching something. She didn’t look up at him as he entered; she never needed to. He, lacking as he did her extrasensory insight, observed her demeanor as he slipped into the copilot’s chair. She was staring at the screen, and holding a T. rex lightly in both hands. Her lips were moving, but Mal couldn’t hear anything.

“What’s that?” he asked.

She blinked, still staring at the screen. “I said, ‘Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal.’”

Mal’s lips twisted into a bemused smirk. “Well, now why you want to go and say a thing like that for?”

River turned her mournful gaze to him. “Captain. I’ve found something I think you should see.”

“All right.” Mal hauled himself to his feet and bent over her console, his head right next to hers. River touched a few keys, lightly, as though the ones next to them might be sleeping and she didn’t want to wake them. Her screen resolved itself into an archive record, its date and time clearly marked along the bottom edge. The record was of a wave; both parties were shown on the split screen.

One was Wash.

The other was a man in neat civilian clothing whom Mal didn’t recognize, but immediately recoiled from. It took him a second or two to conjure why. Everything about the stranger’s bearing screamed Alliance, to every instinct Mal possessed.

“What is this?” he asked.

“Watch,” River said.

And Mal watched, first in astonishment, then in disbelief, then in mounting fury as Wash – Hoban Washburne; affable, unassuming Wash, who had been his pilot from the beginning, and who had been Zoe’s husband – his first mate’s husband, gorram it -- for not much less time than that, calmly and freely answered a series of questions put to him by the Alliance man about Mal, Zoe, Jayne, Kaylee, and Serenity.

So much for finding a little serenity on his own bridge. “River,” Mal sputtered, “What is this, some kind of bei bi yi tu joke?”

“The computer automatically archives all broadwave communications,” River said simply. Before Mal could say It does? Since when? and wonder about the wisdom of having a record of every ‘wave ever sent or received aboard the ship, she continued. “It is what it looks like. I checked. It’s accurate. Wash was feeding information to the Alliance.”

“When? When was this? Put it back up,” Mal demanded.

“Just after we left Beaumonde,” River said. “On the way to Lilac.”

“Are there any more?”

“Just one,” River said. “Promise you won’t go huan yi ge nu hou bao nu.”

Mal was nearly ready to do just that, and he was in no mood to make promises. “Put it up,” he said, jabbing at the screen.

This time, the record was Wash and a different stranger – this one openly dressed as an Alliance officer. Mal held his temper long enough to hear Wash good-naturedly rattling off a list of their contacts and safe harbors – the date and time, he noticed this time around, placed the call shortly after their departure from the training house, when they would have been en route to Haven. Mal’s fist crashed against the screen, ineffectively, and he paced like a tiger in the small space of the bridge, using up the vilest oaths he knew in English and Chinese.

“That man is lucky he’s dead,” he said, when he’d run out of creative vilifications for the pilot he’d once trusted. “I would riddle him with holes my very own self, this instant, were he not.”

“I was surprised, too,” River said. “And disappointed.”

Mal stood, trembling with fury, in the middle of the bridge, and tried to come up with some clear thought. Finally he said, “Don’t tell Zoe.”

“Don’t tell Zoe what?” Zoe asked, stepping through the hatch. “Sir, you sound mighty unhappy up here.”

“Well,” Mal said, through clenched teeth. “I suppose that’s a bit of an understatement.”

“Are you sure it’s something you don’t want to tell me?” she asked. Even given their current strained relations, it would have to be something very unusual indeed, for Mal to be so worked up about it and not share it with Zoe.

Before Mal could respond, Zoe noticed her husband’s voice coming from the speakers in River’s console. Two quick steps brought her close enough to see, and to hear clearly, what Mal and River had already seen. She watched for a few seconds, her face completely unreadable. Then, in a very tight voice, she said “What is this? Some kind of joke?”

“River says it ain’t. Says it’s truthful,” Mal told her.

“Well,” Zoe said, her voice a lesson in controlled rage, “River is wrong.”

No one on the ship except River would have spoken up in that moment; not one other person would have dared to contradict Zoe in such a mood – but River was, perhaps, the one person on the ship who could anticipate accurately enough and move fast enough to get out of Zoe’s way, if she needed to. “I’m not wrong,” she said, a cross-legged portrait of calm. “Look. I’ll show you.” She pressed a few keys, bringing up a mixture of Chinese and English characters that overlaid itself on the two men’s faces in her screen. “This is the encryption data in the archive. It would show, here, here, and here, if the record had been altered in any way. You can see that it hasn’t.”

“Do you really mean to suggest to me that –“ Zoe was forced to pause and take hold of her temper before she could continue, “that Wash gave up our safe harbors to the Alliance while we were en route to Haven, without so much as a nervous laugh?”

“It doesn’t make sense,” River admitted. “Wash would never do that.”

“Then the record has been altered,” Zoe said.

“No,” River said. “But there are other possible explanations. I just don’t have enough information right now to know which one is correct.”

Mal was ready to seize upon anything that had a chance of mollifying Zoe. “How do we get that information, then?”

River rolled her eyes upward at him. Her expression suggested that he was not really helping. “We go to Haven,” she said. “I want to have Simon do an autopsy.”

The bridge was silent for several seconds, while Mal considered whether they could spare the time it would take to go, and whether they could bear the risk it would involve to stay in this part of space any longer, and, mostly, whether exhuming Wash would really serve any useful purpose – which is to say, whether it would calm Zoe down or upset her even more. Zoe stood next to him, and her considerations were much the same. They came to like conclusions in an instant, and said in unison, “Take us to Haven.”

bei bi yi tu mean-spirited huan yi ge nu hou bao nu into a raving fury


Saturday, January 13, 2007 4:06 AM


Holy Crap! When you talk about throwing the window wide open, you don't joke about.

Wash as a traitorous, low down, dirty deciever? Yep, that'd have to be new. I can't wait to see exactly where you take that little surprise, because surely hijinks will ensue.

You've got perfect characterisation, epecially in regards to to Zoe and Mal, and their relationship post Miranda. I love the idea of the crew having to resort to such desperate measures of survival. It must surely be a big fat morale buster to have to pick the flesh of the dead who gave you refuge in hard times.

And River being the only one who'd argue with Zoe? Pretty much gotta agree there.


Saturday, January 13, 2007 5:40 AM


Holy F*%$ing Crap!!!

Very well the dialogue, and the you have, as was pointed out before, thrown that window WIDE open...

oooooOOooooo, come on, post chapter 2 already!!!

Saturday, January 13, 2007 8:54 AM


Holy moly! You are treading on some thin ice making Wash - lovable, fun-loving, sweet Wash - a traitor, but I will follow you on it as long as you keep writing like this.

I hope the subsequent chapters give us a little Simon/Kaylee and Mal/Inara goodness - and of course, answer the question of whether or not Wash really did it ... very intriguing start!

Saturday, January 13, 2007 12:23 PM


No way would the Wash we know betray his friends let alone his wife, nope. Which means the Wash who did must be an imposter. Either that or they planted something in his brain to control him. I am a bit surprised Zoe also wanted to go to Haven so they could find out any clues to explain it, the way she had been acting earlier in the story was as if she was getting ready to turn her back on her oldest friend and the crew and just leave on her ownsome. As awful as this scenario appears to be it may be just the thing to bring Zoe out of her grim state though hopefully it won't plunge her into something worse. Talk about a can of gorram worms. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, January 13, 2007 2:09 PM


OMG! I can't wait for the next chapter!!! Theory here: maybe sometime before, the REAL Wash was kidnapped and switched out. Maybe it was a robot like Mr. Universe's love bot that took his place and was ultimately skewered by the Reavers?!? Wash CAN'T be a traitor! Oh, I can't stand the suspense! Post soon!

Saturday, January 13, 2007 3:41 PM


Do I smell the return of WASH?
I love how accurate the dialog is!

-That nerdy hat

Saturday, January 13, 2007 7:44 PM


Not much more I can add.....I'm always up for a new twist in post BDM fanfic..
Great start!

Isn't the Visual Companion (by Joss) great?

Saturday, January 13, 2007 10:07 PM


OM-ruttin'-G. This is an amazing twist, and one I've never seen before (despite my massive Firefly fanfic addiction.) The characterization and dialogue just *feel* right... more soon, please!!!

Sunday, January 14, 2007 3:05 AM


Thanks, everyone!

Monday, January 15, 2007 2:43 AM


Okay......I've read this posted elsewhere and enjoyed it, but I was awfully bad about commenting the first time through :) This is great. Love it :)

Monday, January 15, 2007 8:58 PM


Oh...holy...hell! You're not only thrown open the've gone and knocked a fuggin' hole in the wall where the window was, nauticalgal! Cuz this little plot idea? So Joss-like I wanna believe you've read the mind of Our Fearful Leader:D

Can't wait for chapter 2...cuz there's gonna be some mighty "Holy @#*$!" revelations to come. I just know it!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007 7:23 AM


Shun-sheng duh gao-wahn! - Although I know it's not Tuesday

Friday, June 15, 2007 4:28 PM


Thanks, Hermitsrest, for your shiny comments on this and The Legacy of Uncle Jack. It spurs me to work on the current WIP when people find the finished ones and say nice things :-)

The current one takes place about a year after Wish I Was Somebody Else. I'm up to chapter 6.


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The Four Winds, Epilogue
The end...or maybe just another beginning.

The Four Winds, Chapter 25
The rest of the crew return home.

The Four Winds, Chapter 24
Me and Elwood, we're puttin' the band back together.

The Four Winds, Chapter 23
Inara investigates matters; Mal discovers that the impossible has been done in his absence.

The Four Winds, Chapter 22
River needs Mal to solve her problem; Mal is forced to provide information to the Alliance.

The Four Winds, Chapter 21
When Mal tries to recover the cargo, will he lose more than he stands to gain?

The Four Winds, Chapter 20
Mal makes changes to his plan; River puts her plan into action; Inara decides on a plan of her own; Wash finds something he'd lost.

The Four Winds, Chapter 19
Simon gets an alias; Mal gets a look at his client; Wash gets a shock.

The Four Winds, Chapter 18
Our Heroes - and Our Villains - try to figure a way out of the mess they're in.

The Four Winds, Chapter 17
River finds out what's really going on; Simon and Zoe fall into the wrong hands.