Serenity Saved, Chapter 2
Monday, December 31, 2007

A woman from Mal's past shows up, and she's got a surprise. (M/I,M/OFC)


DISCLAIMER: Joss is boss.

NOTE: This will be a multi chapter fic. I will be adding the first 7 chapters over the next day or so. I've taken some, shall we say, artistic liberty with dates and timelines. The technical issue is totally made up dribble. And I live in a 'verse where Wash never met up with a harpoon. Set post-BDM. (Oh, and leave feedback, lovely people! Tell me it sucks, tell me it's great, whatever.)

Chapter 2 Mal, Jayne, and Zoe stood in the cargo room. Mal glanced at them. Both were armed, and Jayne had only gods knew what under his jacket. The ship slightly jarred just as Wash’s voice came over the intercom. “Docking complete.” "I don’t much like this plan, Mal,” Jayne said, a massive scowl on his face. “Unless you’d like to freeze to death, we ain’t got another choice, dong ma? Stay here, and if you hear yelling, you come and rescue us.” Mal pointed Zoë to the door. Zoë pulled the heavy metal door open, and a sliver of light could be seen streaming in from the other ship. Mal walked through the doorway, and Zoe followed. They stopped briefly inside the opening. “We’re coming in, myself and my first mate,” he yelled through the opening. When no response was forthcoming, he continued into the entrance way. Jayne waited back in the cargo hold, his hand not far from his piece in case anything went amiss. Mal and Zoe walked through the docking port, and then entered into the other ship’s cargo hold. Mal was slightly taken aback at how large and bright this cargo hold was. He was used to the darkness that blanketed his ship, even during the ‘daytime’ hours. The warmth of the ship washed over Zoe and Mal, and they both visibly shivered, their bodies getting used to the sudden temperature change. The cargo hold was filled with boxes, crates, machinery, and ship parts that the pirate captain had alluded to stripping off an old derelict. The only thing the cargo bay was empty of was crew. Mal couldn’t believe he had walked right onto the Revenge and there was no one there training a gun on him. “Hey. . .” Mal and Zoe both jumped. “Bwah!” A man had stood up from behind a crate. He was smiling. “Sorry, didn’t mean to frighten you.” He walked around the crate toward Zoe and Mal, holding a coiled piece of machinery with wires hanging from it. “I’m Porter, ship’s mechanic. Cap’n said y’all need a dampener for the grav boot.” "That’s right,” Mal responded. He was very much ill at ease, nothing in this situation seemed right. Where was the captain and why had she let two complete strangers onto her boat? “We ain’t got much to offer you for this. . .” “Won’t be needing no payment.” A female voice rang in from a darkened entranceway at the back of the cargo bay. They all turned toward the voice. Mal could see a woman walking toward them, noticing first and foremost the firearm hanging from her waist. Second thing he noticed was her brown coat. She was an attractive woman, probably close in age to himself. A long thin scar ran from her right eye to her chin, and the auburn hair swept over the side of her face barely covered the black patch over her left eye. A smile ghosted her lips as she stared at Mal. “Malcolm Reynolds,” she began, “you are such a liar.” Both Mal and Zoe’s eyes widened. Zoe glanced at Mal, not liking where this was going. Her hand rested on her piece, ready to draw at a moment’s notice. It was never a good sign when anyone from the Serenity crew was recognized. They were all wanted by the Alliance, after all. Mal stared at the woman. Did he know her? From where and when, if he did? Finally, a glimmer of recognition showed on his face. Mal stepped a foot closer to her. “Sloane?” “Harbatkin?” Sloane Faolan said with a raise of her eyebrow. “Well, I . . . you know, we . . .” Sloane stepped a bit closer to Mal. Zoë’s hand tightening around the handle of her mule made Sloane stop from moving closer. “When we caught your ship on our sensors, I couldn’t have been right sure if it was yours or not. But there ain’t many Fireflys left in the black.” She paused, deciding on her next statement. “A warrant came across the cortex a month back. It was the first time I’d heard your name in many years.” He opened his mouth to speak, but shut it quickly. Zoe glanced back and forth between her captain and this woman who, Zoë conjured, was from Mal’s past. His penchant for attracting woman with questionable motives was truly astounding. And for that reason alone, Zoë knew this was not going to end well. ~~~~~ “Malcolm! You better get back here!” Sloane McGrady ran through the cattle pasture at the Reynolds’ Ranch. Running ahead of her, weaving behind cows and around huge bales of hay was young Malcolm Reynolds. Sloane was hot on his trail, not more than ten feet behind him. He glanced behind him, checking how much ground he had in front of her. Spinning back around, Malcolm ran head first into a large brown cow, landing on his rear with a thud. He fell backwards and hit his head on the ground. He fought a dizzy spell, and he opened his eyes gingerly, blinking into the sunlight. Suddenly the girl of his dreams towered over him. “Haven’t you learned not to run from me?” Sloane said with a laugh in her voice. “Thought I’d try again,” Mal answered grimacing slightly in pain. Sloane kneeled down beside him and leaned over his prone form, blocking out the sunlight. Mal could now only gaze at her bosom, which wasn’t a bad thing at all. She reached around behind his neck with one hand and the back of his head with another, checking to make sure he hadn’t split his scalp open. In his haze, Sloane looked like an angel, sunlight haloed around her head. “You’ll be all right, you big baby. Just bumped it a little.” Mal just smiled up at her. The twinkle in his big blue eyes and his sly smile could undo Sloane in a heartbeat. “Maybe if you wasn’t running from me, you wouldn’t get hurt,” Sloane said. “But you chase me when I run.” “I can’t chase you every time.” She said this with a smile, but the look in her eyes told Mal she wasn’t joking. He tried to sit up, but a wave of dizziness hit him again. Sloane wrapped her arms around his shoulders, pulled him up, than sat next to him. Her ma was going to kill her for sitting in a cow pasture in her new dress, but she didn’t care. He took her hands in his. “Darlin’, I ain’t goin’ no where.” Mal didn’t think this was a lie. He had just turned eighteen; his life was spread out ahead of him. He didn’t want to leave his home; he loved Shadow, loved Sloane. But he knew there was something else out there for him. He even knew what that something was. “Maybe someday, we can both. . .” He faltered, not knowing what he should say next. What wouldn’t get him in trouble. “We could get off world on a ship, visit the other rim planets.” Sloane looked down at their clasped hands. Why was she the one feeling guilty? “I . . . I heard you and my brothers talking.” A look of guilt flashed over Malcolm’s face. “I know y’all want to go fight with the browncoats.” He tipped her chin up with his finger, made her look at him, “I ain’t gone yet. I may not. . .” “Yes, you will. I know you want to go. Ain’t nothin’ for you here. You don’t want to be a rancher. There ain’t nothin’ else, ‘sides. . .” “You and my mom. But, I gotta do what I feel is right.” She leaned towards him and put her hand against his cheek. He laid a quick kiss against her palm and she smiled. “I know you do. And I love you, more than anything, for that.” He wrapped his hand around her wrist and put her hand behind his neck. He wrapped his other arm around her legs, and in one swift movement pulled her into his lap, cradling her body close to his. She gazed down at him, ran her fingers through his hair and grazed her fingertips along his cheeks. He pressed his cheek against her chest, needing to feel her heartbeat. She was real, alive, whole. They had been through so much growing up. When their school burned down when they were 10, when her pa died when she was 13, when they got caught kissing behind his ma’s barn when they were 16, these life altering experiences were shared with this beautiful, intelligent, loving girl who now sat on his lap, in the middle of a cow pasture. Could he really leave her behind to go fight in a war? “I love you too,” Malcolm whispered against her breast. Tears sprung to Sloane’s eyes. She tried to stifle them. It wasn’t as if he’d never seen her cry before, she just didn’t want him to see her cry now. “Please. . .” Please? Please was a word she had never heard uttered from the mouth of Malcolm Reynolds. “Please what?” He couldn’t hide his sniffle, and she felt his tears falling against her exposed chest. A single tear dripped down her cheek. “Please don’t make me choose.” Sloane closed her eyes, forcing her tears back. She tilted his head up, and looked into his tear-stained eyes. His words stung her heart, but she knew deep down she couldn’t hold onto him forever. “I would never ask you to choose. You’re your own person, and I know you’ll do what you think is right.” Sloane knew this was it. The conversation she had overheard between Malcolm and her brothers was pretty matter of fact. There were leaving Shadow, soon, to go fight with the Independents. She didn’t want to believe it; she didn’t want to lose her brothers, or this boy she loved. But the fact they were having this conversation solidified it. She knew this would be the last time she spoke to Malcolm Reynolds. She wouldn’t see him off, and she sure as hell wouldn’t say goodbye. Sloane pressed her lips against his forehead, his temple, his nose, his cheek, and finally his lips. Malcolm clutched her tight to him, wrapped his arms around her as if he could protect her from all the evils of the ‘verse. They sat there, only God knew how long. No words passed between them. But Sloane finally pulled away and looked down into Malcolm’s sorrowful eyes. “Go after what you want. Run after it if you have to.” Sloane slid off Mal’s lap and stood up. He was visibly shaken at their sudden break of contact. Her expression had a sudden coldness, the tears dried on her cheeks. “But I won’t chase after you anymore.” She walked away with an ease that broke Malcolm’s heart. He sat there for a long while, until his mother found him and ushered him into the house. ~~~~~~ There were a number of good reasons that Mal didn’t immediately recognize the woman standing before him. She was older, obviously. Her hair was shorter, and her body a little more filled out than the last time he saw her. The twinkle was still there in her eyes, though. Or at least, the eye he could see. “Where . . . how did . . . you. . .” Mal was having difficulty forming a coherent thought. A million things ran through his head. His entire childhood flashed before his eyes. He glanced at his first mate. Zoe had seen the occasional perplexed looks from her captain, but never this bad. “Sir, the ship?” Zoë offered up. “Of course,” Sloane said, and motioned to the man who stood at her side. “My mechanic, Porter. He’ll be glad to assist you.” Mal nodded, feeling slightly dazed. He called out behind him, “Jayne!!” A moment later, the mercenary poked his head through the open docking port door. Mal motioned Jayne forward. “Take their mechanic to Kaylee and help them out in the engine room,” Mal said, the next in a whisper. “Don’t leave ‘em alone. Send the rest of the crew on over, let ‘em get some warmth.” Jayne nodded and headed back to Serenity, not waiting to see if Porter was following or not. “If that’s still all right, o’course,” Mal said quickly to Sloane, “my crew coming over and all.” “Of course. My home is yours, Malcolm.” “This is my first mate, Zoë. Zoe, this is. . .” The words caught in his throat. He wasn’t sure what to say, how to introduce this woman he hadn’t seen in thirteen years. Sloane’s smile slipped a bit, but she recovered quickly. “Sloane,” she said to Zoë. “Malcolm and I grew up together.” Zoë gave her a terse smile. “Kind to meet you.” Mal looked around the cargo bay and took in the sights and smells. It wasn’t unlike Serenity, a little bigger perhaps. He never would have thought in a million years that the sweet girl he grew up with would be flying in a ship like this. Be captain of it, no less. There were a million questions he wanted to ask her, but he didn’t know where to start. And he wasn’t sure how much he wanted to discuss in front of his crew. Mal finally looked back at Sloane. She stared intently at him. “So,” Mal began, “pirate ship?” “Seemed appropriate, from one smuggler to another.” “Smuggler? Now where’d you get a notion that I’m a smuggler?” "Please, Malcolm,” Sloane said. “I’ve sailed in a Firefly. There’s more hidden compartments on that boat than you could find in a lifetime.” “Captain?” Another voice rang out behind Sloane. “What?” Mal and Sloane both answered in unison, and Mal looked away sheepishly. Sloane turned to the back entranceway where a man’s head poked in. “A wave coming in for ya,” the man said. Sloane looked back to Mal and Zoë. “Excuse me.” She turned on her heel and quickly made her way out of the cargo bay. Zoë turned immediately to Mal. “Sir, can we trust her?” “Yeah,” Mal answered. “She and I. . . Ain’t got nothin’ to worry about.” “You didn’t recognize her at first. Or her name when she hailed us.” “She don’t look like the same person. And she must be married. That wasn’t her name when we was growing up.” Zoë nodded, not wanting to press the topic further. Sloane strode back into the cargo bay, just as Mal and Zoë heard footsteps behind them. Inara, Simon, River, and Wash walked slowly through the hatch and almost immediately started shedding their layers. “Jayne and Kaylee are in the engine room, with the other mechanic,” Wash said, walking up to his wife and putting his arm around her shoulders. “It shouldn’t take long to fix, the part’s good.” “Glad to hear it,” Sloane said. “Sloane, this is my crew. Simon, Wash, Inara, and . . .” Mal paused, not sure if he should say River’s name. He and Simon shared a glance. The cortex was still covered with bounties for River and Simon. “. . . and River.” River looked shyly at Sloane, and cowered slightly behind Inara. Sloane walked a few steps toward River, smiling. “River. What a beautiful name.” Sloane held her hand out to River. She hesitantly took it, but she quickly relaxed, even smiled back at Sloane. Sloane shared a quick look with Simon. She had recognized them immediately, knew that the two were wanted fugitives. She released River’s hand. “Don’t worry, child. You’re safe on my boat.” Sloane looked over the faces of Malcolm’s crew. “Y’all look exhausted. Come, let’s have a sit down ‘til your boat is fixed.”

Minutes later, Sloane, Malcolm, and the crew of Serenity sat around a large table in the lounge/kitchen area, a lot like the one on Serenity. Mal sat next to Sloane, and Inara sat to Mal’s other side. Inara was wary of the female captain. None of the crew had said much. They were tired and cold. Sloane was regaling them with the story of her life out here. Wasn’t much different from Mal’s: she had her clandestine dealings, tried to sail under Alliance radar. She said she tried to make everything as legal as possible, but that wasn’t always easy. “Finding work’s been difficult lately. Most of them I dealt with are dead: Horowitz, Fanty and Mingo . . .” Mal and Zoë glanced at each other. “They’re all dead?” Zoë asked. She and Mal knew why they were dead. Same reason Shepherd Book was dead. Anyone who came in contact with Malcolm Reynolds met a terrible fate. “’s getting’ awfully difficult for bad people like us to make a dishonest living. I nearly got snipped couple months back. Then. . .” Sloane stopped. She had seen the Miranda transmission. Everyone in the ‘verse with an active cortex had. It was sickening, terribly frightening. But it had enflamed every independent in the ‘verse. “Then we saw the transmission. The Alliance cruiser tailing me was called away. They had bigger fish to fry than my little boat.” She looked pointedly at Mal. “So,” she continued, standing up and walking to the kitchen area, rummaging through cabinets and producing cups and a bottle of whiskey. “I’m thinkin’ on things, and puttin’ two and two together. Week after the transmission, new warrants come over the cortex for the clinch of Malcolm Reynolds, and River and Simon Tam. Or anyone in contact with the Firefly-class transport ship Serenity. I can only assume at this point it was y’all who sent that signal. ” She walked back to the table, putting a cup down in front of everyone. “Sloane . . .” Mal began. “Like I said before,” Sloane cut off Mal’s statement. She poured a bit of whiskey in everyone’s cup, only a small amount in River’s. “Y’all are safe on my boat. We’re all Independents here. And I got a notion to cut the Alliance down to the quick.” The tension in the lounge was nearly palatable. Zoë was concerned, Simon was angry, Wash was confused, and Inara was unnerved. River was simply fascinated by the whiskey in her cup. She took a sniff and reeled back, scrunching her nose, but she still took a tentative sip. “What are you planning?” Mal asked. Sloane smiled. “Glad you asked.” Sloane went to a cabinet against the wall in the lounge, but movement behind them caught Sloane’s attention. Porter, Kaylee and Jayne walked into the lounge. “Porter, everything good?” “Shiny, Cap’n. Got the part installed. Engine should be revvin’ up in a half at most.” “Serenity just needed some love, is all,” Kaylee said. She smiled at Mal, and he couldn’t help but smile back. “Good work, lil Kaylee. Thanks for your help, Porter. Sloane, this is Kaylee and Jayne.” Jayne sniffed the air. “I smell whiskey.” This brought a laugh from the crew, and Sloane found three more cups. “Been saving this for an occasion. Hope y’all enjoy it.” “An occasion?” Mal asked. “You’re the one helping us.” “Seeing you again is occasion enough. Even if it ain’t under the best circumstances.” She went back to rummaging through the cabinet. “We’re heading to Shadow, Malcolm.” The Serenity crew looked at Mal. They all knew that was his home world. They also knew he didn’t like talking about his past, and they never questioned why he didn’t ever want to visit home. Mal looked into his cup, staring at the whiskey like it was telling him the future, and took a long swig. “I ain’t been home in years.” “I know,” Sloane said. “Too many memories. It’s hard every time I go back. When you and my brothers left for the war, and none of you. . .” She faltered. “Then my ma died, and I left. Found work here and there, bought this ship, and been sailing ever since.” “Your brothers. . .” “They were killed in an air raid the first autumn. They had made me promise I wouldn’t follow you . . . follow them to the war. But it’s sometimes hard to keep promises made to the dead.” Sloane finally found what she was looking for, and pulled out a stack of digital schematics. “You joined the war?” Mal said, quietly. The crew had been sharing hesitant glances. No one had ever seen the captain this quiet, this complacent. Inara didn’t like this side of Mal. He needed to be fierce, fiery, and sarcastic in his bitter old man way. Not . . . this. Whoever this woman was, it was having a deep emotional affect on Mal. And none of the crew liked what they saw: a pirate in sheep’s clothing, letting them graze in her field, luring them into a false sense of security. Sloane walked back to the table and set the schematics down in front of her and Mal. “I worked for the Independents as a spy. I infiltrated Alliance camps. Gathered information, sent it back to base. I worked for the same hwun dans who left you and Zoë to die in Serenity Valley.” She laughed, bitterly. “Did a lot of things I ain’t proud of. Lost my eye and my husband in a grenade explosion.” She took a swig of whiskey, and refilled hers and Mal’s cup. “I didn’t know if you had survived that battle or not. Truth of it, I don’t know if it would have made much difference.” She spread the digital schematics over the table. Everyone leaned closer to see. “We’re here, nearest planet is Shadow. About 8 clicks away, here, is a barely inhabited moon called Cerberus. My intel shows that the Alliance has a munitions factory here.” She looked down at Mal. “They’re looking to start another war. Bring down those who question their authority.” She pauses for a moment, glancing over everyone. “There are civilians working in this factory. I know that for a fact. But there are casualties in war, and they will be no different.” Mal looked up at Sloane. “What do you intend to do?” “I intend to destroy the factory.” Mal stood quickly, finally the fire back in his eyes. “You can’t! Not with civilians inside.” “There’s a few hours at night that the factory closes up shop. Hopefully the civilians won’t be in then. But even if they are, they will be casualties of war, and they will have died for the greater cause.” Mal stared into Sloane’s eyes and stepped closer. “When did you become so heartless, as to kill civilians for your greater good?” She stepped closer to him now, not backing down. “I don’t kill innocents, ‘cause them who work for the Alliance ain’t innocent. With their finery and frippery, living in glass castles and worshipping false idols.” Mal was becoming increasingly agitated with this conversation. He wondered suddenly how much Sloane really knew about his mismatched crew. Inara didn’t work for the Alliance, but her profession made as if she did. Simon shared a quick glance with the Companion. “What you do for work,” Mal said, softly “don’t say who you are as a person.” Inara stared at her hands sitting in her lap. She knew Mal was talking about her. And she had an overwhelming urge to run fast as hell back to her shuttle. “I ain’t disagreeing with you on that one,” Sloane said with a small smile. She sat back down in her chair, picking up her glass of whiskey. “But I do think it tells what lengths you’ll go to get what you want.” Sloane sent a quick glance at Inara. You would never guess that Inara was a companion based on how she looked at this moment. Simple garments, no makeup, hair slightly unkempt. But the look in Sloane’s eyes told her that she knew exactly what Inara was. And didn’t trust her for it. “She’s got a secret.” Everyone looked at River, who was staring at Sloane. Sloane smiled at River. “We’ve all got secrets, child. And some secrets need to be kept.” “He’ll find out,” River continued. “Your secret lies in shadows, waiting to be discovered.” She’s a reader, Sloane thought. That’s why the Alliance wants her. “Sloane,” Mal began. “What’s she talking on?” Sloane looked back at Mal and sighed. He’d find out eventually, anyway. “There is something I gotta tell you.” She paused and glanced around the room. “’m not sure if this is somethin’ we want to be discussing in front of your crew.” Mal steeled his jaw. This didn’t bode well, but Malcolm Reynolds didn’t always make good decisions. “Ain’t nothin’ you can tell to me that you can’t say in front of my crew.” Zoë and Wash shared a quick glance. Kaylee looked back and forth between Mal and Sloane as if it were a tennis match. “That wave earlier was from your mother.” Mal blinked, repeatedly. “My mother? Is she . . .?” “She’s fine. I keep in touch with her. She wanted to know if I was still coming home.” The confusion was evident on Mal’s face. “Why are you keeping in touch with my mother? I ain’t opposed to it, in the least. Just. . .” He broke off, not sure what to say next that didn’t make him sound like a pigu for not keeping in touch with his mother. “After my mom died,” Sloane explained, “she was the only family I had left.” She paused again and emptied her cup in a gulp. “And while I’m off on my particularly dangerous jobs, she takes care of my daughter.” Mal raised an eyebrow. “Your daughter?” “Our daughter.” Everyone’s jaw dropped. Mal stared at Sloane, his cheeks flushed and his mouth gaped open. Without a word, he stood up and walked out of the lounge, making his way back to his ship. The sound of metal clanging and things being thrown about the room was unmistakable. Sloane looked at the person now sitting right across from her: Inara. “That went better than I thought it would.” The awkwardness was spared by a deafening alarm, and Sloane jumped up and ran to a comm panel on the wall. “Ben, what’s going on?” A male voice came over the comm. “Alliance cruiser heading our way.” Sloane looked over to the crew. “People, I think a hasty getaway is in order.” The crew scrambled up and headed out. Sloane ran to Zoë and grabbed her arm. Zoë stopped, looking down at the hand locked around her elbow. “Zoë, he needs to come to Shadow. If only to see his mother, he needs to come. Please tell him that.” Zoë, lips pressed together, nodded, and Sloane released her arm. “Porter, get us undocked and set course.”


Monday, December 31, 2007 3:13 PM


Hmm, Sloane seems to be the stormcrow carrying bad news. Also seems to have the notion that the war isn't over. Not sure this can ever end well. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me


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An Unwanted Guest
Something's been crawling around Serenity. . .

Serenity Saved, Chapter 3
A woman from Mal's past shows up, and she's got a surprise. (M/I,M/OC)

Serenity Saved, Chapter 2
A woman from Mal's past shows up, and she's got a surprise. (M/I,M/OFC)

Serenity Saved, Chapter 1
A woman from Mal's past shows up, and she's got a surprise. (M/I,M/OFC)

Monuments and Melodies
Mal and Inara try to figure each other out after the BDM. Title and lyrics come from a song by incubus. When I first heard it, I thought it was really appropriate for our pseudo-starcrossed lovers. And it's funny how I started this with the intention of it being happy ending, but it Mal and 'Nara just gotta make things difficult.