Shadows Fall - part 4
Sunday, March 26, 2006

With Serenity stuck at Shadow, Inara convinces Mal to take a little trip, Jayne gets some advice from River and he gets another surprise too.


CHAPTER FOUR – rating: PG-13 disclaimer: see part 1

Sorry if the previous chapter was a bit short. I promise the next ones will be longer. Also, things between // are in italic. ---------------------------------------------

She watched him from up on the walkway. The metal was cold against her cheek and her bare legs, but she didn’t care. She could feel something – something that wasn’t too bad or didn’t hurt – and she was fine. The captain on the other hand wasn’t. She could feel the distress radiating off him. So much pain and sadness…

//“Daddy!” The little child cried out as he ran after the departing hovercraft. “Daddy, please!” But the older man didn’t listen. Didn’t even turn his head around to see his son run after him as fast as his little legs could carry him. He didn’t see him fall, and ignored his cry of agony and pain. “Malcolm!” The boy’s mother exclaimed through her tears, but Malcolm didn’t listen. Pain forgotten, he stood up and ran after the vehicle until it was nothing more than a little dot in the distance…//

River winced. Daddy’s weren’t supposed to leave. Her dad hadn’t left… only left her all alone at the Academy. She had Simon though… Sweet, sweet Simon.

//He was crying at night. Silent sobs, quiet whispers in his pillow. “It’ll be okay, Martin,” he whispered as he clutched his teddy bear, cuddling the toy close to his chest. “We’ll be just fine, you’ll see.”//

The boy was strong, even though he was crying. Grew up to be strong too. Not like River. River was weak. She wasn’t feeling so well either. Soup flowing around in her stomach, mixing with little bits of apple… Red liquid with pieces of white in between… Just like the paleness of freshly cut skin, a fair contrast to the deep red blood…

//A bright flash enlightened the night sky, followed by a loud explosion. Screams came from all around, certainly when the bullets started flying around. “Retreat!” “Take cover!” People yelled, and everyone moved towards something which looked like some sort of bunker. A loud yell when a young man took a bullet in his arm… blood spatters on the wall…//

The captain’s been in the war. A sergeant. Zoë was with him there. Soldiers fighting against the Alliance. They didn’t like to be meddled with. River knows about the war. Remembers what the teacher said once back on Osiris…

//Earth that was could no longer sustain our numbers, we were so many. We found a new solar system, dozens of planets and hundreds of moons. Each one terra-formed a process taking decades, to support human life, to be new earths. The Central Planets formed the Alliance. Ruled by an interplanetary parliament, the Alliance was a beacon of civilization. The savage outer planets were not so enlightened and refused Alliance control. The war was devastating, but the Alliance's victory over the Independents insured a safer universe. And now everyone can enjoy the comfort, and enlightenment of true civilization.

River had lived in that civilization. Liked it too, until she saw what it did… Turned her into some sort of weapon, made her sick. She saw what it did to those people back on Miranda. They meddled while they shouldn’t have.//

’Captain knows….’ she mused. River’s flow of thoughts was interrupted when the Captain rose and left for the mess. ’Tea will do him good,’ she thought as she stretched out her legs and got up too, moving towards the stairs and onto the ground floor…


”Hi,” he greeted her as he entered the kitchen. He’d came down there to be alone and think. ‘Figures she hasn’t left the ship, dead dirty rock like this...’ Mal mused as he went to sit down across from her. She was sipping some tea from a delicate cup, picture perfect as ever.

“Hi. Would you like some tea?” Inara offered, indicating towards the little copper kettle with a gentle, flowing movement of her arm.

“Sure,” he smiled softly.

She must have known he’d be there for she had already set out another cup on the counter.

“Has it changed much since you left?” Inara asked in an attempt to make some conversation.

“What? The port?”


“Port’s pretty much the same. Wouldn’t know ‘bout the rest.”

“Did you grow up far from here?” Inara asked as she put down her cup, looking at him with those big brown eyes.

Mal felt like he was drowning. He had always felt like he could drown in those eyes. Never felt panic with it before though, and he shivered. He didn’t like to dwell on the past. He had his reasons.

“’Bout 7 miles,” he answered as he looked down into his cup.

“I’d love to see it, Mal.”


”Just tell her how you feel,” she suggested as she watched him from her position on the ground, her back resting against a tree.

Jayne’s eyes widened and he started fiddling with his hat. “I can’t just do that,” he stated.

River started to giggle. “Jayney’s scared!” She teased in a sing-song voice.

”Hey, who’re you calling scared, girl?! I ain’t never scared!”

“You were when Mal threw you in the airlock when you betrayed us…,” River started, smiling mysteriously as she watched his nostrils flare, “And you’re scared of Reavers.”

“Stop messin’ with my gorram mind, girl!”

“I ain’t doin’ anything, Jayne,“ River said, all serious again, “I’m just trying to help.”

“Well, I don’t want your help.”

“Yes, you do. You’re just too proud to admit it.”

Jayne got ready to reply, but instead he just let out a deep sigh and went to sit down next to River. “I like her,” he stated.

“Good,” River smiled, “Now you just gotta let her know.”

Jayne looked at her with a blank expression.

“Be nice to her, pay attention to her,” River suggested.

“Y’mean like buyin’ her flowers?”

“We live in space, Jayne… maybe offer her to help her with some chores or something.”

“Well maybe I’ll do that then,” he said as he got up again, smiling at River, a genuine smile.


An intriguing smell teased her nostrils as she entered the mess. Fresh vegetables have the most distinguishable smell, certainly when you’re used to stuff yourself with the same tasteless proteins day after day. And fresh soup would’ve filled her mouth with saliva any time, if only she wasn’t feeling so bad. Damn morning sickness!

“Hey there, Zoë,” Jayne greeted her from behind a big bowl of green substance, “There’s fresh soup. Want some?” He gestured towards a big pot on the stove.

Wrinkling her nose, she shook her head as she took a seat across from the mercenary.

”You made soup?” Zoë asked in an amused voice.

He looked dumbfounded, then stated “Kaylee.” A beat as he looked at her. “Wha’s wrong? You ill or sometin’?”

“I’m pregnant,” Zoë said casually, staring right into Jayne’s eyes.

There was a pause, in which Jayne dropped the spoon he’d been holding, splashing soup everywhere.

“Jayne?” Zoë questioned as she saw a smile appear on Jayne’s face.

“Congrats,” he uttered, smile plastered on his face.

A small smile on her face as she nodded curtly.

“Mal okay with it?” Jayne asked as he picked up his spoon again.

“He don’t know it yet, and I’d like to keep it that way for now.”

Jayne nodded in understanding. “Won’t be pleased.”

“He’ll just have to learn and live with it,” Zoë stated with a sigh as she watched Jayne dig into his fresh soup once more. Wrinkling her nose once again, she got up and walked on to her bunk. Napping was always a good idea.


”No one’s here?” Inara asked as she took in the vast nothingness of the ruins that once was the Reynold’s Ranch, and the surrounding fields, bareness as far as the eye could see.

“What about your mother?”

“Dead,” Mal stated, then walked away from the two women towards a tree in the distance, a broken-down swing still hanging from a solid, broad branch. Kaylee got ready to follow him, intent on cheering him up like only she was capable of, but a hand on her shoulder prevented her from wandering off.

“I think he wants to be alone, Kaylee,” Inara spoke in a soft tone, trying to put the pieces together. She felt a bit guilty now for practically nagging until Mal had agreed to take her out there. Arguments with Mal were never easy. It had been foolish to think that he would just take her along when she asked him too. A bit of banter and it was all good though. He had his dignity to think of. When Kaylee got word they were going on a little trip there was no way of stopping her from tagging along, broken engine part or not. And, Inara pondered, maybe Mal needed her out here too.

“But ‘Nara, he’s hurting!”

“I know, but the wound is old… I doubt he’s ever allowed himself to cry.”

“He did when you left.”

It took a while before Inara spoke again, her eyes never leaving the figure in the distance…

”But I returned… They didn’t,” she said in a grave voice.

“They? I thought his mother…”

“If it was only his mother, we wouldn’t be looking at ruins now, meimei,” Inara sighed, indicating a group of crosses next to the ruins.

“So, what happened?”

“I don’t know… But I’m sure Mal will tell us when he’s ready.” She said as she guided the younger girl back to the mule.


Dust whirled up as he walked on towards the mule. They were waiting for him, even though no one had spoken a word. Inara had insisted on coming along, and he never could’ve refused Kaylee anything, but to be honest all he ever wanted as he stared at the ruins was to be left alone now.

It had been many years since he’d seen his old house and it pained him to see it in ruins. A pang of guilt and grief as he saw the tombstones next to it....

‘There’s nothing left here for me,’ he thought, focusing on the figures in the distance. He had another family now. One he wouldn’t let die....

He’d been pleasantly surprised when Inara had decided to stay aboard Serenity and now he loved her for it. Now he needed her. A look of understanding had passed between them the moment their eyes had locked, just before he had walked up to the tree.

Inara knew. Inara understood and she was waiting for him.

“Let’s go, “ he said when he’d finally rejoined them. One last look at the ruins before he directed the mule back towards Serenity, back home...



Sunday, March 26, 2006 1:47 PM


It's always interesting to see how a writer handles the tidbit about Mal's youth on Shadow....his father never mentioned, just his mom. Did his father die when Mal was young? Or was he a bastard who abandonned his wife and child/children?

Also, I liked how you had Jayne react to Zoe's pronouncement about her impending maternity....but I wonder what's really going through the merc's head....


Sunday, March 26, 2006 3:23 PM


Love your stories - but I think you know that!


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With Serenity stuck at Shadow, Inara convinces Mal to take a little trip, Jayne gets some advice from River and he gets another surprise too.

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