Communication - Part XIX
Sunday, March 25, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. A parting. A funeral. Please let me know what you think.


Hank took Colm back outside while Domina opened a safe, hidden behind a family portrait, and removed an envelope, taking a single sheet from inside.

“My father was important in the Alliance, and when this was suggested, he …” Domina licked her lips. “We were at war. You have to remember that. That’s what he told me. We were at war, and the Independents were stronger than they had ever realised. They needed any advantage they could get.” She handed it to Mal. “They thought they were in the right.”

Hun zhang,” Mal muttered under his breath.

The signatures were like a who’s who of the high ups of the Alliance. Josiah Delacroix, Xavier Wing, Damiana Popov, Ang Fu Long … names that encompassed Parliamentary members and the mega rich. Then three signatures he didn’t recognise.

Inara did, though. “The Triumvirate,” she whispered, appalled.

“As I said, everyone had a copy. Each signatory. They insisted.” Domina pointed to it. “The Guild weren’t happy about it, but –”

“Ain’t surprised. It’s a gorram timebomb.”

“No-one else was ever supposed to know about it.”

Mal carried the vellum sheet to the window in order to read it fully. It was surprisingly short for such a dangerous document …

‘This Agreement is made between the Allied Planets and the Guild of Companions. For the duration of the current conflict, and for any period thereafter, all Guild Houses shall be free from Alliance interference or damage, to be allowed to carry on their normal functions. Companions will be unmolested and allowed free movement. In exchange for this concession, any and all information gained during the performance of their contracts that is deemed relevant shall be passed to the Group for use as they see fit. Signed this day by …”

“A lot of the names on this Agreement are dead,” Domina said, shaking her head. “My father of course, Jason Kwang, Adeian Ross … and I heard Xavier Wing had been murdered a few weeks ago.”

“Really,” Mal said. “Must be something in the air.” He tapped the Agreement. “You inherited this?”

“My father gave it to me on his deathbed, three years ago. He … he was ashamed he’d ever signed it.” She rubbed her hands down her arms as if she was cold. “I didn’t know anything about it, I swear, not until he gave it to me. I didn’t know this was probably why they gave me Colm.“ She was pleading with him. “My father said more people died during the war because of it. He often wondered, in his last days, whether that was why the Independent Command didn’t complete the defence of Hera.”

Mal didn’t answer, but his knuckles whitened.

Domina turned to Inara. “You can keep this if you’ll leave Colm with me.”

“He’s not a commodity!” Inara said, her voice dangerously low. “You can’t just offer to -”

Mal handed the document back. “No. ‘Nara’s right. The boy ain’t to be sold. Not even for this.”

“But he’s my son.” Domina was beseeching them. “I don’t care if I didn’t carry him. I love him. He loves us. We’re the only family he’s ever known.”

Inara stared at her, biting her lip and tasting blood. “He doesn’t know me,” she said softly, almost to herself.

Mal turned to look at her, and knew what was going through her mind. “They’re a good family,” he murmured.

“I know.” She closed her eyes, two tears running down her cheeks. She knew what she had to do, for the boy’s sake, for her son’s sake, but it was so hard. So very hard. She took a deep breath and looked at Domina. “If I hear he’s mistreated in any way …” she said quietly.

Hope blossomed on the other woman’s face. “You mean …”

“This is his home. He loves you.” She swallowed. “If I take him away now, he would be unhappy, and that would hurt more than leaving him here.”

Domina took her hand. “Thank you.”

“No. Don’t thank me.” Inara pulled away. “He’s still my son. I want what‘s best for him.”

“I could … if you tell me where you are, I could let you know how he is. Maybe send a capture …” Domina suggested diffidently.

“Perhaps.” Her heart was breaking, and there was nothing she could do about it. “If he asks, tell him.”

“If he asks.”

Inara understood. Colm would never know he wasn’t Domina’s flesh and blood. He‘d never have a reason to ask. “I have to go now, Mal,” she said, holding out her hand.

He let her take his arm, gripping tightly. “Yeah.” He led her out of the room.

“Wait.” Domina ran after them, catching them at the door. She held out the Agreement. “Here. Take it.”

“This isn’t payment, Domina,” Inara said, her face pale.

“No. But I have the feeling it might come in useful.” She looked out to where Colm stood next to Hank, chatting away excitedly. “And I have all I could ever want.”

Inara swallowed. “Domina, I –”

Mal took the document. “Thanks.” He put his hand under Inara’s elbow. “Come on,” he said softly, leading her outside into the light.

Colm ran up. “Are you going already?”

Mal smiled down at him. “Have to. Things to do.”

His little face fell. “I wanted to go for a ride.”

“Maybe another time. But I think your momma needs you right now.”

Colm nodded, standing up straight. “Yes sir,” he said, and hurried inside.

“Oh, Mal,” Inara whispered, leaning heavily against him.

“Come on. Let’s get you home.”

Hank waited until they had gone past back towards Serenity then walked up to join Zoe. “Prometheus?” he asked. She nodded. “Won’t take us long to get there. Not more than six hours.”


They headed for the Firefly in silence for a moment, then Hank asked, “We ain’t taking him with us?”

“No, dear,” she said, putting her arm through his. “He’s staying with his family.”



Kaylee watched as her husband led River down towards the small stand of trees. It was late autumn here, and a cool wind was blowing the remaining leaves around in a wild, tussling dance, but for once her sister-in-law didn’t want to join in. Bundled up in Inara’s thick woollen coat, she looked lost. Her hair whipped about her face but she ignored it, even when it was obviously stinging her eyes.

Kaylee’d sat in the cargo bay while the menfolk dug the grave, taking it in turns, even Simon insisting on helping, making sure it was deep enough so no wild creature could come and disturb things. No coffin for Jethro, though. No time to make one.

No preacher, neither. When Simon suggested it, River had shaken her head. “He wasn't a Shepherd. He never took the white,” she murmured. “It would be wrong.”

“Someone should say a few words though.”

“The captain.”

Mei-mei, I don’t know –“

“It’s okay, doc,” Mal had said from the doorway. “I can find something.”

Simon had looked grateful, if a bit surprised.

Then they’d dug. Soil was yielding, easy to work, with the soft summer rains that fell around here. When it got deeper only two could dig at a time, so Kaylee made sure they had coffee ready for when they climbed out. Except it was only ever one who changed over at a time. Jayne stayed, his strong arms wielding the shovel like it was judgement day and he needed every bit of mercy he could get. It didn’t matter that the Cap’n told him to rest.

“Ain’t got time to rest. Need to get this done.” He swung another load of earth up over the edge.

“Jayne, there’s four of us. We’ll get it done.”

“Ain't listening, Mal.” He carried on, like he was mechanical or something.

And now here they were, all gathered outside, Zoe and Hank standing close together, Mal and Freya to the other side, while Jayne hung back with Inara. Some of the earth had been spread back in the grave to cover over Jethro’s mortal remains, but the majority was still waiting.

“Mal,” Simon said softly.

The captain stepped forward, pulling something from his pocket, something Kaylee was surprised to recognise as Book’s own personal Bible. The pages River had ‘fixed’ were still raggedy, and the cover well-thumbed, but it was the Shepherd’s. Kaylee wondered where the Cap’n had got it, whether he’d taken it from Haven, or if Book had left it behind on board Serenity. Not that it mattered. Not now.

Mal opened the old Bible up at a particular spot, marked by a strip of leather, and began to read out loud, his voice carrying over the wind.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters, he restores my soul …”

She felt a tug at her sleeve.

“Momma?” Bethany said, her face full of so much query.

Kaylee leaned down and swung her up into her arms. “It’s okay, honey. It’s all okay.”

Bethany patted her face.

“… Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. For thou are with me. Thy rod and thy staff comfort me …”

“Momma, he’s with Alice now,” Bethany said softly.

“How’d you –”

“Auntie River said.” Bethany leaned her little face into her mother’s neck and held on tight.

“… Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.“ Mal finished the psalm, and slowly closed the Bible. He went back to stand next to Freya, his arm around her as they stared down at the little marker where their daughter lay buried. Simon, who hadn’t taken his arm from around his sister the whole time, turned her back towards Serenity, leading her away. Hank and Zoe followed, their hands tightly wound together. River kept glancing back.

Jayne tugged off his coat, laying it down on the ground before picking up the shovel and beginning to fill in the grave. Kaylee’s eyes clouded with tears as she took her daughter back inside.


They’d had no time. Barely a few weeks together, yet she felt as if her heart were lying in the cold earth next to his. She couldn’t wander Serenity’s corridors, didn’t feel a part of the ship anymore. She hid in her quarters, eating only the food brought to her, even telling Freya to leave her alone. Mal tried too, bringing her some of the sugar sticks he‘d bought for Freya on Ariel, but she couldn’t. Everything in her mouth turned to ash, and her eyes burned.

“Jayne,” Simon said quietly as the crew left the dining room to go to bed that night after an almost silent meal.

“Yeah?” the big man asked.

Simon waited until they were alone. “Speak to her.”


“She needs you,” the young doctor said.

“You’re telling me to go to your sis?” Jayne couldn’t believe it.

“Hurt her and I will kill you. But right now she needs you.” Simon looked at him with his dark eyes. “I never thought I’d say this, but I think you might be the only one who can help her.”

“Doc, I’m the reason she’s like this. Jethro died ‘cause o’ me.”

“I don’t care. I don’t care if you took your gun and shot him yourself. If you feel guilty, then maybe you should. I’m not going to even attempt to talk you out of it. I’m far more worried about my sister. Right now she needs someone, and it isn’t me.” He lifted his head a little. “Please. Try.”

Jayne stared at him, then nodded. He knew what it was costing the young man, but he also knew it was true.

Now he stood outside her room, and raised his hand to knock. He paused, and instead pushed the door to one side.

River was sitting on the floor in the far corner, her hair lank and greasy, crouched like a wild animal.

“Hey now,” he said, lowering his voice as if he were speaking to a frightened creature. “You don’t need to be going on so.”

She looked at him, and all the pain in her flashed across her eyes. “Jayne?” she whispered.

“That’s me, darlin’.” He closed the door behind him. “And I ain’t going anywhere.”

She reached out her arms and he crossed the room in a moment, picking her up, light as a feather, and cradling her while she cried into his shoulder.

“Shh, shh,” he murmured. “I’m here now.”

to be continued


Monday, March 26, 2007 8:47 AM


That was awesome - I love, love, LOVE Simon asking Jayne to help River. Jayne's right - he has to know what that's costing Simon to even voice the words. Now, we need to see Simon lose it a bit and Kaylee help him see that things aren't so bad ...

And I think the result of Inara's story is all it could be. Although I really want Mal to comfort her, but that would be a bit troublesome with Freya in the picture ... *sigh* Maybe Freya can send Mal to Inara like Simon sent Jayne to River? Just saying ...

Can't wait for more!

Monday, March 26, 2007 9:30 AM


I was very pleased with Inara for putting her son's well being above her own need to be with him. That was a terribly hard and painful thing to do but shows the depth of her love for the child she thought had died at birth. I can see everyone's point of view and this really was the best outcome for Colm. Also loved Simon rising above his over protective instincts to ask Jayne to go to his sister. He loves her and River still feels a lot for him too, maybe out of the ashes of loss they can build something much shinier and stronger. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, March 26, 2007 6:47 PM


Utterly heart-wrenching stuff here, Jane0904! Between the continuation of the attempt to retrieve Inara's son, Mal's recitation of the 23rd Psalm over Jethro's grave, and Simon's painful request to Jayne concerning River...I was close to uncontrolled sobbing:S

What really got me was the whole scene surrounding Jethro's funeral, from digging the grave to filling it back in again. The imagery of Jayne digging relentlessly struck as me quite telling, since Jayne seems to almost want to dig himself right to Hell so that the Devil can mete out punishment for getting Jethro killed. That or he wants to immediately start working his self-assigned penance for his perceived act of betrayal.

Mal's recitation of the 23rd Psalm? Honestly would have given anything to see a moment in the series where Mal puts aside his pain and anger at God in order to properly honour someone who died to defend his crew from harm. I would bet anything Nathan would have just taken the material and owned it till it cried for its mommy...the perfect mixture of fury, sadness and barely-disguised hope that he will stop having to put good people who choose to follow him back unto whence they came.

And the final two scenes involving Jayne? Brilliant bits of writing, Jane...if only because they give us a chance to see a side of Jayne we once could not fathom: guilt-racked and broken at how he has seemingly caused the woman he loves to become shattered once again. That he failed to protect a loved one from suffering, which I think is the bigger sin in his mind (though the loss of Jethro in itself, I think, has hit Jayne harder than he knows right now)...



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