Communication - Part X
Sunday, March 18, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Zoe comes to a decision, and Inara thinks on the past. Oh, and a little more plot thrown in for good measure! Please let me know if you like/hate/rate ...


Hank was giving a good impression of being asleep, even snoring once or twice for verisimilitude. But his back was tense, his shoulders tight.

Zoe closed the hatch and gazed at him. She’d just spent nearly two hours sitting in Inara’s shuttle, trying to make up her mind, and she still hadn’t come to any conclusion. She desperately wanted to speak to her friend, to hash it out with someone who wasn’t going to judge her, but suddenly there was no-one available. Even Freya was pretty much out of the question, with all the things she was having to deal with herself.

She sat down at the table, her back to the bed.

Maybe Jethro might be the person. Only she knew what his answer would be. A child. Bringing a baby into the world, or not. He’d probably say it was a mortal sin. Well, she’d committed a fair few of those in her time, considering one of the few Commandments she had ever remembered was Thou shalt not kill. Broken that one more than once. Although maybe this was just another example.

It wasn’t like they hadn’t talked about it. Hank wanted kids. Wanted them very badly. And most of all, wanted them very badly with her. He loved her. Considered it was the next step, a fair extension of that love.

And all she was doing was trying to decide whether to kill that child before he had a chance to meet him.

She wanted children. Had wanted them with Wash so badly that she’d stopped taking the contraception, letting nature take its course. Made a unilateral decision. Only he’d died before nature had kicked in.

She picked up one of the dinosaurs, turning it over in the light.

He’d have made a great father. Played with them, got into scrapes with them, probably made every excuse under the sun so she wouldn’t get mad with them. And they’d never have stopped at one. There’d have been a whole tribe running around Serenity, getting into trouble, having Mal shout at them to stop making so much noise, only his would be running with them …

She swallowed back the lump in her throat.

Could’ve got to the point where there wasn’t enough room on board for everyone. Growing kids, four fertile women producing more at every juncture, maybe five if Inara got into the act …

Sighing, she put the dinosaur back into place. That didn’t seem to be likely no more. What with Simon having problems, Freya in the condition she was, and now Inara leaving … suddenly the boat seemed kinda empty, even with little Bethany and Ethan.

“You okay?” Hank said behind her, stepping close, his naked body touching, making her shiver.


“Only I figure you’re lying to me. Have been for some time.” He moved around so he could see her face, going down onto his heels next to her. “Why should that be the case?” He moved the heavy lock of hair from her shoulder, smoothing it away.

“Hank …”

“Whatever it is, you can tell me. Please.” His eyes were imploring. There was fear there too.

“I … Hank, I’m …” She couldn’t finish.

“Zoe, if you’re sick, then we’ll do whatever it takes. If I have to mutiny and take over the ship, I will.” He took her hand, and she could feel his was trembling a little. “Whatever it is.”

“I’m not sick,” she assured him, and saw a little of the fear leave his face.

“Then what?”

She gazed at him, his earnest grey eyes searching hers, trying to see what the problem was, his hair sticking up in every direction as usual. She used to think he was too like Wash, and while there were similarities, he had his own personality, his own love for her. Where Wash would have been out making the same trouble as their children, Hank would be looking out for them, understanding but setting the rules, the guidelines to make sure they never … Of course.

“Hank, I’m pregnant.”

His expression didn‘t change. “Are you playing with me?” he asked.


He sat down heavily on the decking. “Oh God.” He covered his face with his hands.

“Hank?” She knelt next to him. “Hank?”

Tears were dripping off his chin onto his chest. “God,” he repeated.

“Hank, please.” She pulled at his wrists but he resisted. “Please.”

He lowered his hands, such an expression in his eyes that her heart froze. “Pregnant,” he whispered.

“Yes.” She swallowed. “I thought that’s what you wanted.”

“Only you’ve been deciding whether to tell me or not, haven’t you?” he asked, his insight piercing her to her soul. “Whether to … to terminate the pregnancy without …”

She sat down next to him. “Yes,” she admitted.

“Zoe …” The anguish in his voice was almost palpable.

“It’s my body, Hank. My choice. Always and ever, my choice.”

“I know, but …” He wiped his face and sat up a little, trying to pull himself together. “What did you choose?”


“Because I’ll … I’ll be there whatever you …” He couldn’t go on, the tears falling again.

“I’ve told you.”

“Yeah, and I’m waiting for …” Her words sank in, and he scooted round to look at her. “You mean …”

“Whatever happens, it will be our decision.”

“Zo, I want hundreds of children with you.” He wanted to reach out, hold her, tell her he’d take care of her …

“I know.”

“Do you … don’t you want this one?” he asked, glancing down to her belly.

“I don’t know.” It was so hard to admit it, but she had to. “I don’t know. I don’t think I’m ready, Hank.”

“Do you think any of the women on board this boat were ready to become mothers?” he asked, a slight smile creasing his lips.

“What if Kaylee can’t -”

“No.” He sat forward, taking her hands in his. “No. If that happens, well, then it’s a shame. But that’s no reason for us not to …” His face began to light up. “Zoe, you’re pregnant.”

“I know.”

“But … you’re pregnant!”

“I haven’t decided whether to keep it or not,” she said softly, only now, this time, she knew she was lying.

“Then I’ll persuade you. I’ll …” He looked around the room. “I’ll become a tidier person. Work out more. I’ll even …” His glance fell on his book collection. “I’ll even get rid of my library.”

She laughed. She couldn’t help it. “You’d do that for me?”

“It’s be hard, but … yes.” His face took on a determined air. “Whatever it takes.”

“It’s still early. About five weeks.”

“Can I wrap you up in cottonwool?”


“Oh. How about -”

“I’m pregnant, Hank. Not broken.”

He clambered to his knees, looking down at her. “Marry me?” he asked.


“Why not?”

“Because we don’t need to. And it’s too soon.”

“Mal married Freya.”


“And Simon got wed to Kaylee.”

“After the fact.”

“I want to marry you.”

“One day. Perhaps,” she added quickly. “I haven’t gotten used to being a mother yet.”

“Mother …” Hank looked like he might faint.

“You’re not to tell anyone,” she said firmly.

“Why not?” He sat back down.

“Just for a while. Until all this is over.”

“You mean Inara and River?”


He bit his lip. “Okay. But only until then.” The grin reappeared. “You know Freya’ll probably be able to tell, her abilities coming back ‘n’ all.”

“But that doesn’t mean we have to confirm it.”

“No. All right.” Hank suddenly jumped to his feet. “You shouldn’t be sitting on the cold floor. Not in your condition.” He leaned over and took her hands, lifting her up. “Gotta take care of yourself.” He looked down at her waist. “Not just you no more.”

She smiled. Finally. “I don’t think it’s been just me for some time.”


Inara lay in her bed, her arms above her head, and thought. River was in the other bedroom, finally asleep, having danced so much she could hardly walk. Still, she had such a good time, and it made Inara smile to see it. She’d had so much pain in her comparatively short life, so it was right and fitting that she should be able to have some fun once in a while.

She closed her eyes, but sleep wouldn’t come.

It didn’t feel right. This wasn’t her shuttle, and the smell was different. She’d tried burning some incense, but the air purifiers must have been too efficient, because the scent didn’t stay.

She rolled over, hugging the pillow.

This wasn’t home, but … There were so many reasons for doing this, for making sure that …

Her mind went to the Firefly, to when she had spoken to Sheydra, when she’d asked why. Why she’d done what she had.

“Best let me take that in to her,“ Zoe had said. “Somehow I doubt you’re one of her best friends at the moment.”

“I’ve come to the conclusion that no-one can be her friend. But I still want to speak to her.”


“I need to know why she betrayed us to Xavier Wing.”

Zoe gazed at her, then nodded. “Okay. But I’m staying outside the door.”

“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Inara said fervently.

Zoe unlocked the door. “Did you ever meet him?” she asked. “Xavier Wing?”

“Once. Atherton introduced us at a party. He was charming, gracious, attentive … and I didn’t like him.”

“Perhaps you’re a little psychic yourself.”

“Maybe,” Inara agreed, surprising her. “I’ve often wondered if the best Companions have to be.” She sighed. “To be all things to all people.”

“So you weren’t surprised when River said she was a latent?”

“Not particularly. But what River did … what Mal let her do …”

Zoe stopped, turning to face her. “Did you think he had a choice?”

“I don’t know. If I’d talked to her, tried to persuade her, reasoned -”

“This isn’t the time for reason. What they did to Freya isn’t reasonable.”

Zoe had been right. Sheydra thought of Inara as the enemy now, responsible for what had happened to her. And worse.

“You talk to me about betrayal?” Sheydra stood in the middle of the locker, her hands on her hips, glaring. “You’ve betrayed everything you ever held dear!”

“The Guild? You’re using the Guild as an excuse?” Inara couldn’t believe it.

“We’re Companions, Inara. What’s the first rule they teach us? Don’t judge. Every day it’s pounded into our heads. Don’t judge. Well, I didn’t.”

“You knew what Wing was going to do! That he intended to take revenge on Mal!”

“Revenge?” Sheydra scoffed. “Don’t be so melodramatic. Besides, your captain killed his son.”

“In self-defence.”

“Anyway, I don’t know why you’re so worked up over this,” the woman said, drawing herself up. “I saved you, didn’t I?”

“What?” Inara was dumbfounded.

“You were at the House when they came. Otherwise you might have been hurt too.”

“You actually think I should be grateful?”

Sheydra shrugged. “That’s up to you.”

Inara could hardly breathe for the anger inside her. “You’re really trying to justify this.”

“I don’t need to.” She patted her hair back into place. “Xavier is a powerful man. He’s asked me to be his permanent Companion, and when I get back I’ll be powerful too.”

“That’s all you care about, isn’t it?”

“Don’t tell me you’ve ever hated the influence we have. The ability to drop a word in the right ear here or there, to change the course of events, to make suggestions that could alter history. Some of the men you’ve bedded are as strong as Xavier. Are you saying you’ve never used that capacity to make them do what you want?”

“I was a Companion. I helped them, healed them, brought them something no-one else could, not -.”

“You are so naïve, Inara,” Sheydra said, interrupting. “The Guild is well rid of you; you‘d never have done what –” She stopped.

Inara couldn’t believe her ears. “Are you … are you saying the Guild knows about this?”

Sheydra lifted her head in defiance. “What if I am? Oh, not the specifics, but they know Xavier wanted your captain to suffer. And they won’t stop it.”

“Why?” Inara cried. “How could they let it happen?”

“Because Xavier has a power they can use.” Sheydra stepped closer. “Do you think they’re going to sit back and see all this potential go to waste? When we can turn events our way?”

“You’re insane.”

“Really?” She smiled unpleasantly. “And if I hadn’t done this, you wouldn’t know your son was still alive.”

Inara felt someone shaking her. She looked up into large, dark eyes. “River, what is it?”

“We have guests.”


“Come with me.” She moved away from the bed, her robe tied tightly around her waist.

“What are you talking about?” Inara asked, sitting up.

“I have to protect you.” She went to the door, looking out into the corridor. “Come on.”


“Sir, we have a ship requesting aid.”

Captain Branscombe rubbed the sleep from his eyes. “What kind of aid?” he asked into the com.

“They’ve lost life-support and need assistance.”

“Did you scan them?”

“Their life-support is down.”

“Fine. Tell them to lock on - I’ll meet them by the main airlock.” He closed the com and sighed. No rest for the wicked.


“Something’s wrong.”

“Wh … what?” Mal struggled awake. “Is it Ethan?”

Freya was leaning over him. “River and Inara.”

“Why? What is it?” His blue eyes cleared.

“I don’t know. Just something. She’s not very clear.” Freya shook her head. “But I think they need our help.”

Mal swung his legs out of the bed and crossed the room in one stride, thumbing the com. “Hank.”

There was a moment’s pause. “Mal? Do you know what time -”

“How far away is the Marrakech?”


“Marrakech. How far is she?”

“Um, well, we’ve been catching her up, so … couple hours.”

“Get to the bridge and floor it. They‘ve got troubles.”

to be continued


Sunday, March 18, 2007 1:37 AM


Excellent work as always Jane0904! It is sad, but expected, that any organization as powerful as the Guild would seemingly spout enlightenment and humanitarianism and privately practice greed.

Sunday, March 18, 2007 6:25 AM


Things never go smooth do they? And that Sheydra, what a conniving rat she is. So glad that River went with Inara, she is so right that her friend is going to need her. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, March 18, 2007 6:25 AM


Things never go smooth do they? And that Sheydra, what a conniving rat she is. So glad that River went with Inara, she is so right that her friend is going to need her. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, March 18, 2007 8:55 AM


Huh...guess AgentRouka won't be too thrilled with that little big of story plotting;D

Still...utterly brilliant work here, Jane0904! The scene between Hank and Zoe was completely spectacular in how you had Zoe be weak while in character and Hank balance his desire to be a father with his love for Zoe. And I gotta say...I like what you had go down between Inara and Sheydra. The Guild is a wonderful thing...but those who serve it? Just as fallible as anyone else:(


Sunday, March 18, 2007 6:30 PM


I really love this - I think Zoe telling Hank was absolutely perfect and so in character for them both. I love the idea of Hank doting on her for nine months - of course, she's probably going to hit him, at least once, but it's just great!


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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!]