Wish I Was Somebody Else, 25/26
Monday, April 16, 2007

Both sides cope with the destruction they have wrought.


AN: The moon boat song is a Chinese lullaby.

25. Strongest Person I’ve Ever Met

“The female of the species is more deadly than the male,” Coles muttered.

Polyphemus’ captain gave him a sidelong look. The two men stood shoulder to shoulder over the vid screen, watching the same five snippets of security footage play in an endless loop. The footage was of four reavers – two groups of two – who had torn through the station in a killing frenzy. Each pair was male/female, and in each pair, the female racked up three times the death toll of her male partner. The footage was all they had been able to recover; most of the station’s records had been destroyed by the explosion that had torn it in two, half an hour before Polyphemus’ arrival.

“Kipling,” Coles said, in answer to the captain’s inquiring look. “From Earth-that-was.”

“We created these monsters,” the captain said softly.

Coles nodded. I created these monsters. He had not spent all that time staring at Malcolm Reynolds’s face, at Zoe Washburne’s face, at River Tam’s and Jayne Cobb’s faces, only to fail to recognize them when he saw them again, however mutilated.

Their eyes hadn’t changed. He knew them when he looked in their eyes. And he was astonished by their deadly fury.

Coles considered whether it would be necessary to remind the captain that all information regarding reavers, including video footage like this, was classified information. He decided not.

“I’ll be in my quarters,” he said. He left the bridge and walked to his assigned room. The envelope inside his uniform jacket had shifted, so that one corner poked him in the shoulder with every step. The more we try to do, the worse it gets Coles reflected. What’s next? This Reynolds fellow forges the reavers into an army and attacks parliament?

Before the Tams, before the operative, Reynolds had been a petty thief operating on the fringes of space. An ex-Browncoat, certainly, but that wasn’t an insignificant population within the Alliance, and many of those folks had become law-abiding citizens after the war. It was in trying to recover River Tam that the Alliance had unleashed Reynolds. Not because Reynolds had any dreams of a new independence movement, any personal desire for glory or excessive devotion to some dead cause – but only because it made him angry that they would not leave that one girl and the people around her alone.

In much the same way, Reynolds’s assault on the lawforce post was centered not around a cause, but a man. His pilot, his friend, his first officer’s husband – Hoban Washburne.

Coles knew now where Reynolds had been, when Polyphemus overtook the decoy firefly. He had been close enough to know, just as Coles had believed he would be. And he had acted. Ruthlessly. But personally.

As long as the Alliance remained a threat to the people Malcolm Reynolds had decided were his own to care for, Malcolm Reynolds remained a threat to the Alliance in return.

Coles reached his quarters, but stopped outside the door. He pulled the envelope out of his jacket, and turned it over thoughtfully in his hands.

This ends here.

Coles turned away from his quarters, and walked toward the destroyer’s med bay.


Jayne had wanted to be the first to have his face fixed, but Mal had insisted on River going first – not to appease Simon, which Mal didn’t much care about, but because he needed River on the bridge.

Her face red and puffy from the multiple surgeries, River went to the bridge and laid in a course for the small planet– one that would take them well outside the course Coles and Polyphemus were probably taking to the lawforce station. Inara surrendered the pilot’s chair gladly enough, but didn’t leave. Instead, she took the copilot’s chair, and sat meditating. Her calm helped River, who had been riding the edge of hysteria in the wake of adrenalin and murder.

A few minutes later, Jayne came to the bridge and took up station at the bottom of the steps, just inside the windows. They were nearly half-way there when Mal came in, and stood behind River. His dread nearly overwhelmed her; she struggled to feel Inara’s meditative calm instead. Fifteen minutes after that, Zoe came in, too, and River’s hands tightened on the helm; although Zoe appeared as calm as ever, her stoicism was barely more than skin deep right now.

River hummed, trying to drown them all out. Twinkle, twinkle, little star/How I wonder where you are?

Simon and Kaylee came onto the bridge, holding hands. They slipped into the space behind Inara. Kaylee was trembling; she leaned against Simon for support. Simon was grim. River’s jaw clenched, and she wished she were not so at the mercy of what everyone else was feeling. She wanted to go away, where none of them were, and weep until their feelings were washed away in tears. But her place right now was here, and all she could do was continue to hum softly.

Up above the world so high/Like a diamond in the sky.

They all saw the mesoplanet as they came up to it. Polyphemus was nowhere in view; nowhere on the scans. But neither was Lemon.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star/How I wonder where you are?

If Mal had ordered it, River would have simply orbited the planet just as they had done before. But he said nothing, and River followed her instincts in a slightly different direction.

Inara was no longer meditating. She was not as tense as Mal, or Zoe, but River’s skin crawled as Inara’s calming influence vanished from the bridge.

Little silver moon rides the sky like a boat/Past the twinkling stars it will float, lightly float.

Serenity came around the planet, into full view of the field of debris that had been the Lemon.

River opened her mouth to tell them what they were seeing – but closed it again when she realized that no one needed her to. Not even Jayne.

River slowed the ship, to hang in space just beyond the destruction.

Sail, little moon boat, to the west/Sail, little moon boat, while I rest.

She could feel Mal and Zoe behind her; a wall had gone up between them. A lump formed in River’s throat, and the bridge went completely silent as her humming ceased.

Mal looked sideways at Zoe.

“Zoe,” he said. “Fly true.”

Zoe turned and walked off the bridge.


The door to Wash and Zoe’s bunk stood open, but Zoe bypassed it.

They might look for her there.

There weren’t many places on a ship this size where a person could go, and hope not to be found. Zoe walked through the dining room, down the steps, and out into the heavily loaded cargo bay.

She could sit in the cargo airlock.

But she was already so cold.

She walked back to the med bay, and passed it by. Beyond was the passenger dorm; Simon’s bunk; River’s bunk.

The bunk that had been Book’s.

Zoe stopped, slipped open that door, and went inside.

This might well be the last place on the ship anyone would think to look for her. They all still thought of it as Book’s room, and tended to behave as though it were. Even though the shepherd had been gone for months. Even though they had buried him.

Their reticence had not extended so far as to leave the room completely empty. Like every other available space on the ship, Book’s room had been pressed into service for storage, but there was nothing on his bed, so Zoe sat there, with her back pressed against the wall and her knees pulled up to her chest.

She tried to pray, but couldn’t form words.

She wanted to weep, but found she couldn’t do that, either.

She wanted to feel something; anything. But what she felt was nothing at all.

This Cat leaped lightly onto the bed beside her.

“I didn’t want to be found,” Zoe told her.

Unperturbed, This Cat curled up in the valley between Zoe’s legs and her stomach.

Zoe stroked the cat’s soft ginger coat, glad that she could still feel something.


Monday, April 16, 2007 9:35 AM


Please tell me Wash is still alive somewhere. His reappearance is one of the many reasons I love reading this story.

Monday, April 16, 2007 9:36 AM


OH MY GOD!! What's Coles going to do with the envelope, he's going to go with Mal's plan right?
Poor Zoe, This whole adventure is killing her. Why does Wash die so much? It's not fair, he so does not deserve this, adn neither does Zoe.

I totaly just realized that there is only one more chapter after this. That is, like, the most depressing thought ever. It makes me sad. But I really want to know what happens. Promise me that there will be a loverly Wash and Zoe moment at the end, Please?

Monday, April 16, 2007 9:40 AM


Just hang in there for one more chapter, y'all.

Monday, April 16, 2007 11:01 AM


I am also missing Wash like crazy, it will be the worst possible ending if he doesn't come back. I love this series and am now worrying that Coles will screw everything up for our valiant crew. Please, please, let there be a happy ending! Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 9:05 AM


Ono! Wash?!?!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 7:11 AM


Oh...Wash ain't dead. After all the horror and BDRs the crew has pulled off, killing Wash again is just mental. Besides, he got the shuttle disengaged from the "Lemon," so I imagine he's fine and hiding;)

Still...I am truly glad that Coles has finally gotten the frigging point after 24-25 chapters that Mal is only dangerous when you threaten him and his family...especially his family. You back off and let things go, he lets you go on your merry. Still...things can wrong at the best of times.


Thursday, April 19, 2007 9:05 AM


LOL What makes you think I'm not mental, BEB? I've written 26 chapters of *fanfic* featuring a DEAD GUY, after all. Maybe I'm *totally* mental :-)


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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.