Sweet Sorrow - Part I
Saturday, April 7, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Follows on immediately from MONTY'S PLACE. Things get back to normal ... well, as normal as they ever get. But there's angst in the offing ... On my bended knee I beg for feedback!


Monty and his crew had gone, leaving Mal watching the departing ship with something like happiness running through his veins. It had been a good few days with them, and he felt rested. The fact that he’d also managed to get more time alone with Freya was a big part of it, of course, but he felt ready for most anything that the ‘verse could throw at him.

He should have known better, at least if the look on his first-mate’s face was anything to go by. She’d come up behind him on the bridge, watching him intently.

“What?” he asked, getting Serenity ready for flight.

“Sir …”

“Zoe, it ain't exactly been often I’ve seen you lost for words, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t start now.” He glanced up at her. “Is there a problem?”

“Sir … I'm … I'm pregnant.” She waited for the explosion.

“Really.” Mal flipped a switch above him, then two more.

She stared at him, sitting in the pilot’s seat. “Sir, did you hear what I said?”

“I heard.” He turned to look at her, just the hint of a lift to his lips.

“You know.” She could hardly speak.

“That you were pregnant?” He shrugged, the lift getting higher.

“Did Simon tell you?”

Mal shook his head. “Doctor/patient stuff. No. Zoe, it wasn't that difficult to figure out.”

“What?” She closed her jaw with an audible sound. “How long?”

“Have I known?” He was smiling now. “A few days. And you shoulda told me before.”

She sat down next to him, unable to take her own weight. “Right.”

“Why didn’t you tell me before?” Mal asked, looking out into the bright sunlight, giving her a moment to compose herself.

“It … this baby … changes things.”

“Surely does.” He glanced at her. “Were you thinking on leaving me?”

“No.” Zoe was surprised. “I can honestly say that never entered my mind.”

“Good.” He relaxed a little. “Not sure I could take that.”

“But … another baby on board …”

He turned his seat to gaze at her. “Zoe, you’re my best friend. You’ve seen the worst of me, helped me when I was at my lowest, stood by me.” He grinned. “Guess that’s worth something.”

“Good.” Her brain had almost shut down.

“Zo, I’ll support you. I’ll even be there holding your hand when the little one’s born. Hell, short of marrying you, whatever you want.”

“Thank you.” She took a deep breath. “But I don’t think that’ll be necessary. The hand-holding, I mean. Hank is more than ready to shoulder his parental responsibilities.”

Mal nodded. “Good. Wouldn’t want to have me one of those little ‘chats’ with my pilot.” He paused a moment. “Talking of marriage, he gonna do the honourable thing?”

“We … ah … haven’t discussed it.”

“Do you want to?” He went on quickly before she could answer. “’Cause I get the feeling you ain't ready.”

Zoe stirred uneasily. “That’s something I … I was married to Wash. Something I never thought would happen to me. When he died I didn’t think I could ever want to find someone else. Then Hank …”

“Yeah. He doesn’t exactly go away, does he?”

“No. And I really didn’t want him.”

“It’s annoying how people wear down your resistance.”

Zoe nodded, knowing he wasn't only talking about the father of her child. “I'm not ready for another marriage, Mal. Not yet.”

He smiled. “You should call me that more often.”

“No, sir, I shouldn’t.”

He grinned and stood up. “Well, as fun as this conversation has been, we’ve got to get off this mudball. Got us a job on Ibis, so you’d best get your other half up here to do his.”

“I think he’s throwing up,” Zoe said with a smile.

“He got the morning sickness instead?”

“No, sir. Just hungover.”

“Well, he needs to get us moving.”

“Inara’s still at the house.”

“Okay. I’ll go get her, you excavate Hank from the head, and we’ll get back to flyin’.”

She nodded. “Yes sir.”


Inara was in the living room of the house, staring at the decaying curtains.

“Hey, you’d better get a move on, else you’ll be stranded.”

She turned around, seeing Mal leaning nonchalantly on the door jamb. “I was just thinking what a beautiful place this could be.”

“Maybe.” He moved into the room. “Need some fair coin spent on it.”

“Mmn.” She ran her hand over the back of the sofa, feeling fabric dust cling to her fingers.

He watched her. “You know, I still ain't pleased about what happened on Magdalene. What if Hank hadn’t been able to win the money?”

She gazed at him and lifted her eyebrow. “Are you blaming me?”

“Well, it sure is someone’s fault, and it ain't mine.”

“I would think you’d blame Monty, if anyone. Or would that break the Browncoat code of honour?”

“He didn’t know Rankin’d be there.”

“And neither did I.” She brushed her fingers together. “Mal, it ended well. You’ve got your ship back, undamaged, as you requested, Kaylee will be able to get the new de-oxidiser, Jayne’s got more money in his pocket than he knows what to do with at the moment, Zoe’s -”


She gazed at him. “She told you.”

“Officially? Yeah, just now.”

“Then why aren’t you ranting and raving?”

He looked affronted. “I do not rave.”

“I thought you’d at least have a face like thunder.”

He shook his head. “You know, for a Companion - sorry, ex-Companion - you sure don’t know how to read me.”

“Shipboard relationships complicating things?” she reminded him.

“Well, I can’t exactly stick to that no longer, can I?” He grinned suddenly, years falling away from him. “Got me a wife and child of my own back there, and believe me, I’ve done my gorram best these few days to do what the Bible always said, and go forth and multiply.”

She held up her hand. “Please. I really don’t wish to know the details.”

“You’re feeling uncomfortable about this?” He was surprised. “Never thought I’d see the day.”

“I just don’t want you to go into every thrust,” she said.

“Wasn’t planning to.”

“Good.” There was a long pause. “So you wanted to get going?”

Mal nodded, shaking the atmosphere from his shoulders. “If Hank’s managed to drag himself onto the bridge, we got a job to do.”

“Of course.” She walked out of the door, and he fell into step next to her. “Although I am surprised anyone needs to work. What with the money left over from Magdalene.”

“Hell, woman, I need to.” They stepped into the sunlight. “I didn’t get a share of that, and no matter what anyone else seems to think, it takes cold hard coin to keep Serenity running.”

“I’m sure we could all chip in if -”

He interrupted. “No. No way. That ain’t … ‘Nara, no matter how I feel about that job going south the way it did, it was you pulled it out of the fire. I wasn’t even there.”

“And if you had been?” She glanced into his blue eyes, closed a little against the brightness. “What would you have done?”

Mal smiled. “We’ll never know now, will we?”

Ten minutes later Serenity lifted off Lazarus and headed off into the black, leaving the house and grounds to the softly buzzing insects.


“What did he say?” Hank was staring up at her.

Zoe put her hand on his shoulder. “He’s okay with it.”

He stood up. “Okay? Just okay?”

She smiled. “He’s pleased for us.”

“Really? Not just saying that? ‘Cause I’ve been intending to keep away from the airlock, just in case.”

She put her hands on his waist. “Pleased. Really.”

He grinned at last and pulled her into his arms. “See?” he said triumphantly. “Told you he’d be fine.”

“That you did.” She closed her eyes, their bodies melding together.

“When are we arriving at Ibis?” Simon asked from the doorway, then saw the pair of them. “Oh, sorry.”

They broke apart and Hank grinned at him. “Doc, we’re pregnant.”

The young man smiled in return. “So I understand. Although I presume you were invoking the royal we.” He looked at Zoe. “And we need to make up a schedule of visits to the infirmary.”

“I’m fine.”

“Call me old-fashioned,” Simon said, stepping onto the bridge, “but as a doctor I tend to want to keep an eye on pregnant women.”

“You got some kind of fetish?” Hank joked.

“Something about the way they seem to bloom,” Simon deadpanned. “I find it quite erotic.”

“So Kaylee said,” Zoe agreed.

“Guess we need to make an announcement, then,” the father of her child said.

“That’s … probably not necessary,” Simon said slowly.

“What?” Hank thought a moment. “Well, I suppose now Mal knows, there’s … well, Freya and Inara … and River … but Kaylee and Jayne don’t -”

“I think they do.” Simon sighed. “Kaylee guessed. I haven’t confirmed it yet, of course, but she’s been …”

“Nagging?” Zoe supplied.

“Persistent,” Simon modified. “It’s a small ship. People tend to notice if you throw up a lot.”

“So it’s just Jayne …” Hank sighed.

“Ah, no. Kaylee was with Jayne when she guessed.”

“And she couldn’t keep it to herself?”

“Hank, this is Kaylee we’re talking about.”

Zoe smiled. “Well, that takes the edge off, don’t you think?” She squeezed Hank’s arm.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I kinda liked the idea of telling everyone.”

She stared at him.


Freya was on hands and knees on the floor of their bunk. She was growling. Sitting against the curve of the bulkhead was Ethan, a wide smile on his face, holding out his little fists towards her. She moved across the decking, swaying slightly, and he laughed. As she got to him, she put her face against his belly and worried at it, still growling. He gripped her hair, the laughter now rolling out of him as he wriggled.

She sat up, pulling her son into her lap. “Oh, Ethan, I missed you,” she said, holding him tightly to her.

He patted her cheek and gurgled in his incomprehensible language.

She smiled. “I hope that means you missed us too.” She put her hands under his arms and held him up so his feet touched the floor. “’Cause your daddy and me, we did.”

He gurgled, twisting in her grip, something having caught his eye under the bunk. She put him down and he was immediately crawling towards it. He reached out and picked it up, sitting back and bringing it to his mouth.

“What have you found?” She pulled him out and took it from him. “Oh.”

It was a silver cross. One she recognised all too well.

“It must have fallen off the bed,” Mal said from the ladder. She hadn’t noticed him climb down.

She looked at him. “Your son … sorry, he was tasting it.”

Mal smiled, just a little. “That’s okay.”

“I thought this was still …” She motioned towards the drawer where she’d seen it last.

“I told you I prayed for you,” Mal said softly.

“Yes, but …” She held up the cross. “I didn’t think you …”

“I don’t.” He sat down on the floor next to her, picking Ethan up and settling him into the crook of his knee, watching his son as he grabbed for his suspender. “But when Simon said … “ He swallowed, then looked up at her. “I thought I was going to lose you. That I was going to have to bury you next to Alice. And if that had happened, it wouldn’t have been long before I joined you.” His eyes were bright, liquid. “I would have done anything … anything to keep you with me.”

“But not because you believe.”

“No. Not because of that.”

She touched his cheek with her hand, and he moved his face enough so that he could kiss her palm, holding it.

“What did you want to do with it, then?” she asked softly.

“Put it back. You’re well now, and …” He took the cross from her. “This ain’t me no more.”

“Yes it is. Maybe not now, but it was. I think it should go next to mine.” She glanced up towards her figurine and incense holder.

“I don’t believe, Frey.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

He looked at her and shook his head slightly. “You’re a strange woman.”

“I hope you mean that in a good way.”

“After the last week, I think you know exactly what I mean.”

She smiled. “Oh, yes.” She moved forward enough so that their thighs were touching, and kissed him softly.

Ethan laughed.

“It ain’t funny,” Mal murmured, smiling against his wife’s lips. “You wait ‘til you’re old enough to find someone like your mother. And, believe me, that ain’t gonna be easy.”


River arranged, for the fifth time, the bouquet of flowers she’d brought from Lazarus. They would only last a few days, but it was nice to have something fresh on board. She’d brought some seeds and was intending to try and grow them, and if that worked maybe she’d try vegetables, maybe even some strawberries for Kaylee. There was an old storage locker down in the common area that no-one used much, and if she cleared it out, perhaps she could make a garden. Get some lights with her share of the money from Magdalene, some decent soil, get Jethro to help her …

Suddenly she sat down on the floor, the flowers scattering around her. Tears began to roll down her cheeks as she realised she hadn’t thought of Jethro for hours, perhaps days. She’d been … happy …

to be continued


Saturday, April 7, 2007 11:46 PM


Please let Jayne and River Get together they both deserve something good to happen.

Sunday, April 8, 2007 2:20 AM


I don't understand why Zoe was afraid to tell Mal about her pregnancy. I think she respects him very much, but I don't think she would ever be afraid to tell him what was on her mind. Long term relationships don't survive like that. And self expression has never been Zoe's problem. Otherwise, I can feel the angst brewing. Beautifully written, as always!

Sunday, April 8, 2007 9:57 AM


Oh, a nice hint of the Jayne/River angst to come. I loved the Simon/Zoe/Hank convo on the bridge that was just great and so in each of the character's voices.

Methinks, Inara's going to take the money from the last job and settle somewhere, maybe start a school, buy a house. I don't think she can stand to be on Serenity surrounded by happy couples for much longer.

Sunday, April 8, 2007 2:57 PM


Loved the Mal-Zoe interaction, especially the offer of hand-holding, and the understanding that Zoe isn't ready to marry! Also nice to see the Reynolds family back together again. Poor Ethan got shortchanged in the last story! Loving this stroy arc already!

Monday, April 9, 2007 11:09 AM


Brilliant! I love the way Freya brings out the best in Mal and was so happy with the dialogue between Zoe and Mal. Her uncertainty about how he would react to her pregnancy then her reaction to him being okay with it. At the end my heart ached for River, I think the idea of a little hydroponics room to grow flowers and food in would be shiny. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, April 13, 2007 7:04 PM


Gotta say that final scene with River really got to me, Jane0904...observing River's breakdown as she realized that Jethro won't be around to help her with her garden idea and that she actually spent a significant amount of time not thinking on the loss of her bao bei. I really hope Jayne and the rest of the crew can help her over the upcoming guilt hump...

And I too think that Inara seems to be considering investing in some land-based property and for the reasons TamSibling mentioned. Once Jayne and River get together, Inara will be the only BDH not with someone...and being the 5th wheel in pretty much any situation would be all kinds of painful:(



You must log in to post comments.



Now and Then - a Christmas story
“Then do you have a better suggestion? No, let me rephrase that. Do you have a more sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve us getting lost and freezing to death?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little standalone festive tale that kind of fits into where I am in the Maya timeline, but works outside too. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Epilogue
"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

Monied Individual - Part XX
Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

Monied Individual - Part XIX
“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVIII
Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

Snow at Christmas
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVII
Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XVI
He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XV
“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!]

“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!]