No ship to fuel, no crew to feed, no job to chase
Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mal gets ready to move on.


Dedicated to Bytemite.


The days unfolded inevitably, each resonating with a less powerful echo of the loss of Serenity, and the people that had made up her crew reached into the space she had left in the ways that were possible, and allowable, for them: for Kaylee, working on the Anzu and making out with Trudo, for Jayne, working on the Anzu and making out with Lucy. For Simon, always, tailoring his genius for care-taking to the well-being of his sister. And for Mal, holding together a plan and the sense of the place that everyone held in it.

Only now it was not just his crew but the settlers, the people of Warminger and the remnants of the Alliance attack-force too. Before an operation a good leader would go from position to position, checking, reassuring, reiterating the plan. Instead, gritting his teeth through the effort of fighting old habits, he kept himself on the Anzu, following the directions of Trudo and the other engineers who knew a lot better than he did how to fix up an Alliance wreck. And he reassured himself: Susan, Lee and Yan understood as well as he did the benefits of sharing the bicarium. They wouldn’t, they couldn’t fuck it up. Same went for his crew. Who weren’t his crew anymore, besides. He tried to tell them, nicely as he could, when they called him ‘Captain’: seemed Jayne found it easiest to take on the change in status, and Kaylee the hardest. She’d always managed to make it sound like a term of endearment, anyways; didn’t seem much harm in allowing that to go on.

And that left just him, Malcolm Reynolds. No ship to fuel, no crew to feed, no job to chase. He held Inara’s promise to his heart as he worked, and he prayed. The days unfolded, and each one took him a little further from Serenity. He prayed for each day of the war and every lost soldier he could remember. Memories of more recent losses he kept at bay, parcelled, ready to be unwrapped when he got to the Abbey on Persephone.

He didn’t pray about the future. Not yet. Nor about Miranda. At least, he only stopped on it: I pray for Miranda - before moving on quickly, lest the enormity and still-existing of it dragged him back to what he was easing away from.


Kaylee broke off from her work suddenly: it couldn’t wait, she had to speak to Mal now. Since he’d spoken to Inara he’d been hard to find and, when found, distant, cryptic. She found Trudo, asked him Mal’s whereabouts.

“He’s cleaning out a fuel conduit.”

She wanted to slap him, even as she recognised that it would perpetuate the battle they’d got themselves into: Trudo or one of the other Alliance engineers gave Mal the shittiest stuff needed doing; Trudo denied it when Kaylee called him on it; in the verbal fight that ensued they’d be at least one use of the word ‘bitch’ on his side and ‘purplebelly’ on hers; they’d start laughing and have a bit of great sex; and it would start all over again.

“Secondary?” she snapped at Trudo now, arms folded.

“Tertiary,” he replied, expressionless.

Secondary – pipes as thick as your arm; tertiary – as thick as your finger. Secondary fuel like a soup of molasses and wet concrete; tertiary thicker than that. Normally they’d shoot the pipe through with the right dilutant, none of which they had.

She fumed, searching for a new word to hurl at him. But seemed Trudo wanted to do it differently. He stepped towards her, held her lightly.

“Now smile for me, little Kaylee farm girl,” he said, adopting that unconvincing Rim-tone he used when they were alone and intimate. Kaylee continued to glare. “I spoke to him myself,” Trudo went on. She could see he was trying to make it better, but this just made it worse.

“Spoke to him about what?”

“I’ve told you and told you he’s happy to do the work. Wants it.”

“Yeah right.”

“So I asked him outright – ‘Why do you want all the jobs nobody else does?’”


“And he said he was doing – well, doing penance.”

Kaylee pushed his arms off of her. “What! Doing penance for what?” She was angry again, but close to tears too.

Trudo took a step back. “Didn’t ask him that.”

He let Kaylee go when she turned and left.


She stopped in a deserted walkway, crying properly now. Her Captain. Her goodCaptain. Heaping more suffering on himself than any man could endure. And what was she going to do about it?

By the time she found him, down one of the corridors you had to stand sideways on in, she’d dried her tears. And the darkness ought to take care of any redness about the eyes.

He pulled down the mask covering his nose and mouth. No kind of protection for what he was doing. Wasn’t wearing proper gloves neither.

“So I want to hear it again,” she said, after he asked what brought her there. “Every word.”

She hadn’t been to this part of the Anzu before. She could feel the ship’s wounds somehow, in the metal. It was distracting.


“Yep. Right from start to finish.”

So he recounted the conversation he’d had with Inara a couple weeks back. Only this time, when he got to the end, he told her something he hadn’t mentioned on the first or second telling. Had to be the darkness, and the physical closeness that the corridor forced on them.

He said it in a whisper, abashed. “Before she went, she said, ‘You know where to find me. And I know where to find you.’”

Kaylee clutched him, as smelly with grease and engine exhaust as he was. “She said that? You didn’t tell me she said that!” She was beaming, feeling her joy matched by his. “Does that mean she’s coming?”

“Ah, I – I,” he shrugged, her delight making his own spill out into a laugh. “I don’t reckon so!”

“No, no, I guess not, not right now,” said Kaylee, taking her excitement in hand. “But she will, okay?”

“I just can’t say, little Kaylee,” he said.

“But what matters is, she’s, you know,” – Kaylee hesitated as the subject that had provoked her tears loomed – “You know, seemed like there was a time she might not get past - ” Kaylee stopped again.

“Forgive. That’s the word you’re looking for,” said Mal quietly.

Kaylee’s gaze dropped away from his. “Yeah,” she whispered.

“Wash,” Mal began with a clearing of the throat. “How’d you square that every day, that he ain’t around no more?”

“An accident. A gorram tragedy.” She studied Mal – less the look of him, but the feeling coming off of him. “Could have happened any dozen of a hundred other times, things we’ve done and places we’ve been.”

“Zoe said some stuff,” Mal muttered.

“Yeah, well, she would. Wouldn’t she.”

There was a silence before Mal spoke again in a lower tone. “’ve had a lot weighing on me.”

Kaylee resisted an impulse to throw her arms around him. “Yeah. Yeah, and whatever the reasons, those reasons are done now.”

Mal went to push his hand through his hair, remembered the glove. “Gotta a lot of reasons.”

“Hanging around here in the dark scooping engine reject out with a teaspoon ain’t gonna help none neither.”

Mal laughed quietly. “You’d be surprised.”

“And when you’re done with the Anzu?”

Mal looked at her intently. “Well. I wasn’t gonna say nothin’ yet.”

“Say what?”

What could he say? ‘I’m leaving.’ Didn’t think he could inflict the pain of those words on anyone else.

“Back on Shadow, before the war, the thing I really wanted to do with my life was be a preacher.”


“I mean, when I was twelve. Wanted to be a preacher real bad.”

“And now? You want to be a preacher again?” she said, her heart sinking, if being a preacher meant he was going away any day soon. He'd said he wanted to go to Persephone. But he couldn't mean now.

“I’m makin’ my peace, Kaylee,” Mal answered. “Thought the time for doin’ that was long gone.”

“You’re goin’ away.” She felt the tears stinging again.

“Ain’t we all goin’ away?” he asked gently. “Was Serenity was keepin’ us in one place. But it don’t got to be like that. I’ll always” – throat-clearing – “always check-in.”

“Check-in! I gotta hope it’ll be a little more’n that!”

“Yeah, well, yeah, you know” – shrug – “’ll always love my little Kaylee.”

Now she did throw her arms around him with a loud sob. “Oh Cap’n!” He removed his gloves and held her.


Sunday, June 10, 2012 12:07 PM


It's been a long while, and yet I step back into this fic knowing exactly where we left off, without even having to go back and look (although I will), because the change Mal has gone through and how it resonates with the rest of his life, is just profound.

That's the word for this entire new chapter. Profound. Deeply felt. Mal trying not to fall back into old habits, being angry and impatient and barking commands at everyone. Seeking out hard jobs following other people's directions (!) and all of it with him being HAPPY about it. PRAYING even about things.

Then there's Kaylee trying to defend him, and Mal saying he always wanted to be a preacher (! and I can see it too) and then there's the truth, yes, they're all leaving.

I wonder if accepting that Mal's leaving too, maybe Kaylee will try to talk to Simon. I don't think they'll reconcile because Trudo does seem good for her and her mechanics lifestyle, but it would be nice to see forgiveness between them and for them to part on good terms.

Sunday, June 10, 2012 12:30 PM


I can't see Kaylee staying mad at anyone - Trudo has hurt her far more than Simon and she's willing to project some kind of future with him. A rash of bitchiness will get it out of her system. And Simon - he would just be so relieved for her to make their parting a good one, so he can feel less bad about having let her down. I don't think that makes him a worse character - it's just natural.

I have a feeling Kaylee will host a little farewell bash...and that this gang will get together again somewhere not too far down the line. :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012 12:37 PM


Oh I like the idea of a farewell bash. :) That's perfect. To each other, and also, almost maybe, to Serenity, since enough time has passed and they can maybe start to remember the ship and what they lost with fondness.

Which has a double layer meaning with us, the readers.

Sunday, June 10, 2012 3:58 PM


I went back and read of few of your previous chapters to remember what was what (although there was no real need to re-read "Run" and "Connection" because I remembered them very well -- some really beautiful words expressing Mal and Inara's feelings, spoken and unspoken, in those chapters). Mal's reached an enormous turning point in his life -- epiphany is not too strong a word -- and I was only slightly surprised by his words to Kaylee expressing his interest in being a preacher. The self-imposed penance was not surprising. I liked how you showed it from Kaylee's POV through her spat and later discussion with Trudo. It's a new phase for Serenity's crew, and I see both partings and reunitings on the horizon. Thanks for posting and welcome back.

Monday, June 11, 2012 6:23 AM


Gorramit, this was painful. Mal leaving? Going off to be a gorram Preacher? I bet Book is laughing his shiny socks off wherever he is now, always supposing he went up not down. I loved the connection you showed between Mal and Kaylee but what they both really need to do is get Serenity back or another ship as can light up the Black the way she did. Stay free and keep flying. Mal needs to be a Captain again. Ali D
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Monday, June 11, 2012 8:30 AM


It's sad, they had a family and a home, but they had to do some questionable stuff to keep going like they were, and it obviously was wearing on Mal.

Serenity isn't just a wreck, she's vaporized irradiated particles. In this story, Mal decided to move on, instead of dwelling on his losses (again). It'll be interesting to see where that goes.

Monday, June 11, 2012 8:50 AM


Hey Ali, thanks so much for reading and reviewing! But we often don't agree, do we?! :)

Call me stupid, but I want Mal to be happy. Was he happy on Serenity?

I have a feeling he'll be up to some gun-totin' before this series ends though...And as EBF says, there will be both partings and reunitings.

Monday, June 11, 2012 7:49 PM


An interesting path for Mal, he's had to carry the weight for so long, sometimes you have to walk alone before you can walk with others, again, hope you plan on adding more.

Saturday, June 16, 2012 11:55 AM


Hey Platonist - nice to see you again, and thanks for your patience, taking up something that's been so long to get started again. I feel I owe it to you and Byte to finish this time!

Saturday, June 23, 2012 12:31 AM


"And that left just him, Malcolm Reynolds. No ship to fuel, no crew to feed, no job to chase. He held Inara’s promise to his heart as he worked, and he prayed. The days unfolded, and each one took him a little further from Serenity."

And that is just... brilliant. Coming back into this series (and thanks again for the recap) this is still the part that is most moving, most important and most beautiful. The way you took Mal and stripped him of his shields and duties and put him on this path that is all him, all personal. From almost entirely static to moving with a tidal force, slow but powerful.

And immediately, he seems younger, back in a place of possibility and equality and future. His conversation with Kaylee holds almost none of the paternal tone of the past. It's almost like they are of the same age, siblings. He's not ordering or telling, he's conferring, in a way. And Kaylee so much less passive, sorting through her relationships, speaking her mind, having kinky angry-sex with adorable Alliance engineers.



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Inara's and Mal's paths converge.

Mal recovers.

Further apart, still together
Mal's journey begins.

Farewell Part II
The 'Verse turns, Serenity's people move off on different paths.

Farewell Part I

No ship to fuel, no crew to feed, no job to chase
Mal gets ready to move on.

Previously on Aliasse's Firefly Fan Fic Series.....
Self-important, moi?

Fight. Flight.
Next in this Mal/Inara saga. Inara breaks away. Follows 'Connection'.

Mal re-enters the human race. Short update.

Mal and Inara talk. Next in series.