How I Soar Chapter 25
Tuesday, February 7, 2006

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


Jayne knew River's nightmares were getting bad when she sent him to Simon for a smoother. She hated being drugged, and had been going to great lengths to avoid it, as of late.

Jayne drew himself up to his full height as he approached the infirmary door."Hey, doc?"

Simon looked up to see the mercenary standing in the doorway. "Not now, Jayne," Simon groaned. He had Kaylee in his arms, and she was giggling.

"Um, River wanted me to ask you -"

"Not now, Jayne," Simon said more firmly. "Right now I need to take my wife to bed. If no one's dying, it can wait 'til morning."


Inara grabbed River's hand and dragged her away from the melee.

"Simon!" River cried. "We have to help him!"

"Simon's fine," Inara lied calmly. "He's with Kate, they're fine. We've got to get back to the ship."

"No!" River sobbed. "It's all going to end in blood! It always ends in blood!"

"Stop it!" Inara snapped, her soothing voice becoming harsh. "Simon and Mal have more to worry about than whether you and I are all right, so we have to get back to the ship, ma shong."

River whimpered and followed Inara back to the ship.

"Where's Wash?" Inara asked Kaylee when they stumbled into the cargo bay. "Tell him to take a shuttle. Kate, Simon and Mal need an evac, now."

Jayne looked confused, taking the crying River into his arms. "We thought he was with you."

When Hannah saw River crying, she started crying, too. "Kaylee, take Hannah and River up to the mess and fix 'em a snack, wouldja?" Jayne said, a worried look on his face.

Kaylee looked doubtfully at him, but scooped Hannah up with one arm. "Come on now, girls, let's go have us a cookie or two."

"No," River said. "I'm going with you."

Jayne frowned. "'Nara can fly the shuttle, an' I can handle the cover fire, darlin'."

River gave him a look that reminded them all just how well she could handle herself, and Jayne shrugged. "Fine, then, darlin', let's go."

The sound of gunshots was all Wash could hear as he searched for Kate; his vision was clouded by smoke. Suddenly someone was holding him by the throat, the cold metal of a pistol's barrel pressed to his temple. The man behind him laughed, and then there was a distinct shot, and the man went silent and released Wash from his hold.

His eyes met Kate's with a grateful smile, but it faded to fear when a shot rang out and he realized she was hit.

"What the hell part of 'stay with the boat' didn't you get?" Kate said, her hand pressed against the bullet wound. The white satin brocade was blossoming red despite her attempts. There was one more shot, followed by silence.

"That's the last of 'em," Mal said, relieved. "I think the lady's question deserves an answer, but it can wait 'til we get back to the ship."

"This is the last time," Wash said angrily. "I've had enough of your si wang di yuan wang, and this is the last time I let one of my women get this close to death because of you."

"Wash, stop..." Kate whispered, and her eyes closed.

"We've got to get her back to the boat," Wash breathed, his eyes full of fear.

Mal knelt by Kate, picked up her arm to check her wrist for a pulse. "She ain't gonna make it back to the boat," Mal said sadly. "She's gone."

"No," Wash said, shaking his head. "She can't be gone." He looked down at the gun in his hand, then back at Mal, his eyes narrowing. "You," he said, pointing the gun at Mal. "You xiongmeng de kuangren, you kill everything I love!"

Fear flashed in Mal's eyes. He knew the look Wash was wearing now - it was that of a man who had nothing left to lose. "Think about Hannah," he said, dropping Kate's wrist and putting his hands up in a display of surrender.

"I am," Wash said coldly, clenching his jaw, squeezing the trigger. Once for Zoe, once for Kate, and once more for little Hannah. His jaw dropped, and he let the gun fall from his hand. "Mal... Oh, god, Kate." He watched as the gun fell to the ground in slow motion, and turned to run for the ship. He tripped over a body and fell. It was Simon, face down, still half in drag, with a bullet in his leg and another in the back of his head. Wash turned his head and was sick.

"I can't get any control," Inara said, her voice shaky. "River? I can't control the shuttle. We're going to crash!"

River nodded and held Jayne's hand tightly. "It's all going to end in blood."

"River," Jayne said, shaking her. "Come on, wake up. Your good-fer-nothin' brother had to go sex up li'l Kaylee, but I had 'Nara fix ya up a smoother instead."

"It always ends in blood. It gets worse every time," River said softly. "But I can't tell."

"It's just a dream," Jayne told her. "Don't mean a thing."

"I wish I could believe you," she whispered, burying her face in the pillows. "Drug me, please. I don't want to dream anymore."


Kate couldn't stop herself from laughing. "And, you're scarred for life now? Is that it?"

"You could've warned me, is all I'm sayin'," Mal said. "I ain't never wiped an ass weren't my own, Kate."

Wash snorted. "She can do it herself, you know."

Mal's eyes went wide as saucers. "That little... she was playin' me?"

Kate nodded. "Like a finely tuned guitar, Captain."

"Her pants have snaps," Wash said. "She's got a little step stool she climbs up on."

Mal twitched. "So this is what happens when two smartasses mate."

"Get used to it," Kate grinned. "In a couple years Kaylee and Simon's babies will be pulling the same kinds of stunts, and who knows? Maybe you and 'Nara will have rugrats of your own by then."

It was a sobering thought - that he might end up a single dad - and Mal twitched again.


"Simon, if this is your idea of a joke..."

"Inara, no, I spoke with Dr. Foster - the Dr. Foster that Foster's disease is named for. The entire illness was an elaborate ruse to keep Companions loyal to the Guild. You were sworn to secrecy, correct?"

Inara nodded slowly. "No client would choose to contract with a Companion he or she thought was dying," she recited, almost word for word, what she'd been told. "And the other Companions might worry for their own safety."

Simon smiled. "Every Companion believes they have this mysterious malady, Inara. The false knowledge of your impending death, combined with the inhibitor you were injecting was meant to keep you from forming emotional bonds, to keep you loyal to the Guild." Simon backed away when he realized Inara looked as though she could punch someone; he didn't particularly want it to be him.

"I... need to be alone," Inara said softly. "If I'm needed, I'll be in my shuttle, but I'd really prefer to be undisturbed."


"Get lost," Jayne told the white kitten sitting on his chest. He was attempting to do some bench presses - a bit too early after his injury, and without a spotter - but Xue wasn't inclined to let him get away with it.

"Mrow," she told him sharply, digging her claws in just the tiniest bit.

Jayne sighed. "I ain't gonna hurt nothin', I just gotta... why am I explainin' myself to a gorram kitten?" He could swear the smudge of grey just above Xue's right eye cocked at him. "Go find some vermin to chase or somethin' an' leave me be."

Xue curled up on his chest and closed her eyes.

"Oh, what the hell," he said, mentally shrugging. His weight bench was as good a place as any for a nap, and with River nightmaring the way she had been, he wasn't getting as much sleep as he needed lately anyhow, so he gave in and closed his eyes.

The Mandarin: xiongmeng de kuangren - violent lunatic


Tuesday, February 7, 2006 12:31 PM


Very good chapter, though I'm predicting a world of emotional hurt for Simon for blowing off Jayne.

Keep up the great work.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006 11:09 PM


It's really disturbing that River keeps having that same nightmare over and over again. And the remark that it always ends in blood can't be good. Makes the shiny bits that much brighter and starker against the doom that may be hanging over them all. Also felt a pang of sadness when Mal is kidded about him and Inara having rugrats of their own and Mal thinking about being a *single* dad. Aw, just want to hug my Captain. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, February 16, 2006 7:28 AM


'kay, so i'm just gonna ride right past the part with "it always ends in blood" because that path leads to me hitting the screen.

Mal twitched. "So this is what happens when two smartasses mate."
yup, the kid poops and the cap'n ends up a mite twitchy...



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