How I Soar Chapter 14
Thursday, December 29, 2005

An AU in which Zoe sacrifices her life for Wash... and he must learn to move on.


"Ain't it pretty?" Kaylee said, stepping back to admire the tree. It was draped with a paper chain, and popcorn that had been strung together. There were origami flowers and birds and other pretty little ornaments tucked into the boughs. "I wish we coulda got a real tree, but at least we won't need to buy another one next year."

"It looks lovely," Inara smiled. "Everything does." The common room was decorated with red paper lanterns that would be lit later that evening when Hannah had gone to bed. Nine Christmas stockings of various sizes, colors and fabrics hung on one wall.

"Rumor has it you girls been into the rum already this mornin'," Mal said, who had just been down in the cargo bay.

"Practicing for tonight," Kate grinned. "Hannah, don't you pull that. If the tree falls down on you, I'm just going to watch and laugh." It was an empty threat, but the little girl re-thought the idea of tugging on the paper chain.

"You seen the mess Jayne's makin' of my hold?" Mal asked. "Wood dust all over the place, an' I reckon he's done forgot how to use a broom."

"He's making Christmas," River said in his defense.


"What's that?" River asked Jayne as he bent over a small wooden object, sanding out the rough edges..

Jayne looked startled. "Why you gotta sneak up on me, girl?"

"I asked first," she said simply.

"Cradle," Jayne said tersely.

"Not for Kaylee and Simon. Too small for a baby," River pointed out.

"Not for a doll baby," Jayne replied. "Or a kitten."

River beamed and kissed Jayne's forehead. "You," she grinned, "are a softie."

"I'll deny it to the grave."

River studied the tiny cradle. "What's it lined with?" she asked, petting the soft fur.

"Rabbit I picked off on Aurora," Jayne said. "My pa showed me how to cure skins when I was a boy."

"You made all your gifts," River stated, rather than asked. "But you're good at keeping secrets, because I can't see mine."

"Way it should be," Jayne grinned slyly. "You gonna go get ready for the party?"



"Because you're the captain," Inara said patiently. "You're the patriarch. You have to be there."

"I hate parties," Mal groaned. "I hate Christmas."

"You like booze," she pointed out, "and we've got that in spades."

Mal considered this. "I ain't dressin' up."

"As long as you're clothed, I'm sure no one will mind," Inara smiled. "Just hunker down in a corner with some hot buttered rum, or some egg nog, and try to look like you're not being tortured, okay?"

"I'll go, and I'll drink, but I make no promises about the torture."


"No bed," Hannah said, stomping her tiny feet and waving her fists in the air. "Hannah no bed!"

Wash sighed. "If you don't go to bed, Santa Claus will just pass right on by the ship," he told her. "He won't leave your presents if you're awake when he gets here."

"Daddy's right," Kate nodded. "It'd be a shame if you didn't get your kitten," she said, making a sad face.

"No kitten for Hannah?" Wash said. "That would be a shame. Better get into your jammies and snuggle down under the covers nice and tight."

Hannah reluctantly obeyed. Kate and Wash closed the door behind them as they left.

"How long do you think that'll stick?" Kate asked.

"I give it an hour," Wash sighed. "How did you manage to do this on your own?"

Kate shrugged. "Beats me. About earlier -"

"Yeah, I'm sorry," Wash said. "You were pretty tipsy, and there was mistletoe -" She cut him off with a kiss.

"I was just gonna say maybe we should do that more often."

"Oh," Wash said, surprised. "In that case, I'm not sorry."


"It ain't as gross as it sounds," Kaylee insisted. "Tomatoes is fruit, an' ice cream sometimes has fruit in it."

"Yes," Simon smiled, amused. "But ketchup on a sundae?"

"Don't laugh," Kaylee pouted. "It ain't funny. You wouldn't be laughin' was it you havin' all these weird cravin's."

"I'm sorry, bao bei," Simon said, swallowing a chuckle. "I think it's adorable, really. And I know you can't help it."

"I ain't gonna be able to have any of the goodies tonight," she frowned. "Not the buttered rum nor the egg nog, anyhow."

"Good," Simon grinned. "You can make sure I don't make an ass of myself, then."

"I'm pregnant," she grinned mischeviously, "not God."


"Mal," Kate breathed. "She's perfect. What a beautiful little baby!" She snuggled the tiny kitten under her chin. "Forget Hannah, this little sweetie is mine. I'm going to call her Xue." The kitten purred and nuzzled, burrowing under her chin. "Oh, I suppose I'll have to share, but she's just so precious."

"The doc made sure she wasn't any kind of odd wildcat," Mal told her. "Weren't so lucky on my first attempt." He downed his third mug of hot buttered rum. "Get me another, darlin'?" he asked Inara, who rolled her eyes and complied.

"Y'all been drinkin' too much," Kaylee commented. "It's almost gone."

"Guess we'll have to move on to the egg nog," Jayne grinned, punctuating with a loud belch.

"Wow," Hannah marvelled from the doorway. "Unca Jayne pretty."

"That weren't pretty," Kaylee said. "That was disgustin', weren't it, Jayne?"

"Absolutely revoltin'," he agreed. "Don't you go makin' sounds like that, hear?"

"What are you doing out of bed, little princess?" Inara smiled. "Didn't Mommy and Daddy tuck you into bed a while ago?"

Hannah ran to her Uncle Mal and buried her face in his sleeve.

"Don't put me in the middle o' this, li'l one," Mal said, scooping her up into his arms. "Seems I heard someplace Santa only leaves you presents if you're in bed when -"


Simon smirked. "Maybe I've had too much rum -"

"You've definitely had too much rum," Kate interrupted.

"- but is now when I say, oops, we let the cat out of the bag?" Simon was pelted with bits of cookies, popcorn, and a pillow or two.

"Very punny," River said, shaking her head. It felt spinny.

"Kitten, mama," Hannah insisted, climbing into her mother's lap and wrapping her chubby hands around the kitten's midsection.

"Gentle," Wash advised. "The kitten's just a little baby right now, so you have to be really really careful."

"Soft," Hannah sighed, stroking the creature's snowy white fur. The kitten, who had initially been frightened by the toddler's enthusiasm, began to purr contentedly.

"Okay, toots," Wash said. "You got your kitten. You cheated Santa out of his surprise. It's time to get back to bed."

"Unca Simon," Hannah told her father. "No dada."

"Ouch," Wash winced. "That's harsh." He moved closer to Kate and squeezed her shoulder.

"Okay," Simon said, "but if you get up again, we're going to tell Santa Claus to keep your presents for himself."


"Unca Simon," Hannah said, climbing into bed. "San-ta?"

"He'll be here as soon as you go to sleep," Simon said, tucking her in and tousling her blonde curls. "The sooner you go to sleep, the sooner it'll be morning, and you can open your gifts." He placed the kitten on the bed with her.

"Hannah no wan' sleep," she said sadly, pouting and stroking the kitten's white fur.

"Nobody wants to sleep on Christmas Eve," Simon smiled. "But we have to if we want Santa to leave us goodies. We have to be very good and do things like go to bed when our mommies and daddies and aunts and uncles tell us."

Hannah looked very thoughtful. "Kitten," she smiled. "No Santa?"

Simon nearly choked. How was he going to explain that? "Uhh... Santa came by a little earlier to drop off the kitten because he didn't think she'd like to ride all around the 'verse all night," he said, congratulating himself on his quick thinking, especially since he had a head and tummy full of hot buttered rum. "But your other presents won't be here until later, so you'd better go to sleep."


Friday, December 30, 2005 8:34 AM


I think Simon is witter drunk

Saturday, December 31, 2005 7:29 AM


love the cat out of the bag line! oh simon~

Saturday, December 31, 2005 9:56 AM


awww on Kaylee's craving :) And yeh, nice save, Simon. Hannah's a smart one!

Wednesday, January 4, 2006 11:00 AM


- Good. You can make sure I don't make an ass of myself, then.
- I'm pregnant, not God.

ahh, wedded bliss...i love your banter. also love your wash/kate and simon/hannah moments. very sweet.



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