Broken Promises
Tuesday, April 4, 2006

How does Mal take the news of Zoë's pregnancy? This AU story takes place 5 years after "Serenity the Pilot," and is Mal/Simon slash. Don't read if that's not your cuppa. This is also a companion piece to my stories Old Flame, Commitment and Family, links for which can be found in the text.


CHARACTERS: Mal, Simon, Wash, Zoë, River, crew peripherally

DISCLAIMER: Don't own it, never did, never will, just having fun playing.

A/N: This is a companion story to my series Family--Chapter 1 Adult Only!, Family--Chapter 2 PG13, and takes place 5 months after Old Flame and Commitment, all of which should probably be read first for this to mean anything.

Thanks kispexi2 for betaing this, my first attempt at angst.

Translations are in mouseover.

Feedback makes me happy!

Broken Promises

Mal dropped down the ladder into his bunk to see his husband standing by their bed, folding a shirt with an open valise on the floor next to him. "Simon? Wha'…," he hesitated, trying to regain control of his voice. "What are you doing?"

"Packing," Simon responded without turning around.

"Yeah, I can see that. Question is why?" Mal tried to keep the hurt out of his voice, not entirely succeeding.

"Because I'm leaving," Simon stated as he finally turned to face Mal.


Three weeks earlier

Everyone was relaxing after a very satisfying meal as Wash cleared his throat. "If I could have everyone's attention please," he grinned, "Zoë and I have an announcement. ... We're going to have a baby!"

Kaylee jumped from her seat and ran to give Zoë a hug as she squealed, "Oh, that's wonderful news! I'm so happy for you both! Isn't it shiny, Cap'n?"

Mal stood quickly, throwing his napkin onto the table, "Oh, yeah, shiny," he said, voice laden with sarcasm. Striding angrily from the room, he added, "Just shiny."

Simon came around the table and gently laid his hand on Zoë's shoulder. "I'll go talk to him," he reassured her. "You stay here and enjoy your moment," he smiled as he gave her a gentle squeeze. "River?"

"Go. I'm fine. He needs you." She gave Simon a smile before turning to Jayne and saying, "Should give Wash a cigar to celebrate."

As Simon left the galley to follow Mal, he heard Jayne answer gruffly, "Gorram it, girl. Works t'other way 'round. He's supposed to give me one."

Simon found Mal on the bridge, standing stiffly, looking out into the black. He tried to ignore the view outside the windows as he went to stand by Mal.

"You'd best leave me be, Simon," Mal growled. "I'm not fit company right now."

"Let me be the judge of that. Why are you so angry?" he asked as he placed his hand on Mal's arm.

Mal shook off Simon's hand, rounded on him, and snarled, "I said 'leave me be' and I mean it! I'm this close to hittin' somethin', and I don't want it to be you."

"Oh? Afraid I might hit back? Or, no, I know, you'd rather punch Wash or maybe Zoë? Yes, I can see it now. You take out your anger and frustration on either of them, and Zoë'll shoot you where you stand! Wouldn't that be fun?!"

"Not as much fun as wipin' that oh, so superior look off your face!"

"Don't even try it, Mal. You want to beat on something, fine! There's a perfectly good bag in the cargo bay. But don't even think about punching me, because I will hit you back!"

"Who said I wanted to punch you?" Mal sneered as he grabbed Simon's shirt, shoved him back against the closest console, and claimed his mouth. Pouring out all his anger and frustration, he tried to devour Simon--biting his lower lip, thrusting his tongue into the hot mouth, grinding their hips together.

Simon struggled away from Mal. Fighting for breath, he gasped, "No, Mal! I won't let you do this to me, to us. Either take out your anger somewhere else, or calm down and talk to me."

Mal's eyes still blazed with anger, but his voice was filled with remorse for treating Simon the way he had as he ground out, "I told you I wasn't fit to be around right now! Now go away!"

Simon sighed and said, "You know where to find me when you want to talk," before walking off the bridge.


As Simon left their bunk the next morning after a restless night of sleeping alone, he heard shouting in the galley.

"How dare you! What were you thinking?!" It sounded like Mal had been shouting for quite some time. His voice was rough and harsh.

Simon rushed into the galley to see Mal right up in Wash's face, but Wash wasn't cowering in fear. In fact, he was radiating an anger of his own as he yelled back, "Tsào nǐ zúzōng shí bā dài! This isn't any of your business!"

"Qù nǐ de! It's happenin' on my gorram boat! That makes it my business!"

"Fine! We'll take it off your boat! But you stay away from Zoë! She doesn't need any of your gŏu shǐ right now!"

"Qù dì yù!"

"You first, Mal! You first!" Wash stalked out of the galley on his way to the bridge.

"Mal?" Simon reached out a hand.

Mal brushed him aside as he strode from the room in the opposite direction. "Not now, Simon! Not now!"


Later that morning Simon stepped through the doorway of the infirmary and confronted chaos.

"What the hell do you think you're doing, Captain!?!"

"Lookin' for somethin' to bandage my ankle. Sprained it."

"How did you do that? Never mind, I probably don't want to know. Sit down and let me see if I can get your boot off. Was it absolutely necessary to trash my supplies? You should have come to me right away; I think I may have to cut your boot off."

"I don't think so, Doc. Don't have another pair, as you well know."

"Well, I can't get it off without causing more pain. Your ankle's too swollen."

"Just do it!"

"Fine! Nǐ piánzhì de hún dàn!" Simon finally got Mal's boot off. After making sure the ankle was only sprained and not broken, he began bandaging it. "Any other damage I should know about?"

"Sore ribs and shoulder."

"Oh, for…What did you do? Get in a wrestling match with Jayne?"

"Matter of fact, yes! Bì zuĭ, and do your job."

"As much as I enjoy practicing my skills, I'd appreciate it if you could refrain from bringing me more wounds of the self-inflicted variety. Was it worth it?"


"Ah." Simon continued to work in silence for a time, thankful that River was the only reader on board. "I'm finished. You can go. Just take it easy today."

"Hmph!" Mal limped out of the infirmary.


In the common room Mal was stopped by Book. "Not in the mood for any lectures, Shepherd."

"Not planning to lecture you, son. Just offering to listen if you want to talk."

"Well, I don't. So why don't you move out o' the way?"

Book stepped aside, and Mal continued on his way through the ship, headed for his bunk. As he reached the upper deck, he ran into River and Kaylee. River didn't say anything, just gave him one of her looks.

"Hey, Cap'n! Isn' it shiny 'bout Wash and Zoë? It'll be nice to have a li'l 'un about the place. Dja hurt yourself? Oh, Simon probably took real good care of ya, didn' he?"

"No, it's not shiny! And shouldn' you oughta be in the engine room?" he snapped at her, and kept walking, didn't need to see it to know she was disappointed in him again.

He made it most of the way through the galley before Inara accosted him.



"I'm concerned about you. Why…?"

"Well, don't be! Don't need nothin'…"

"Don't be a shă zì. Something's obviously…"

"That's real helpful. You always call someone an idiot when you're concerned about 'em?"

"Only when it's the truth."

"Hmph." Mal started to stomp out of the room, but his ankle protested, so he had to slow to a limp.

He was almost to his bunk when Zoë came up out of hers.

"Sir, you have a minute?"

"No, I don't."

"Thought we ought to talk."

"Don't seem like there's anythin' to talk about. Seems like your husband said it all already."

"Maybe. Maybe not. Still ought to talk."

"Not now, Zoë." He left her standing as he climbed gingerly down the ladder into his quarters.


Zoë headed for the bridge.

"So, husband, what's this I hear about you having said it all already?"


"Just talked to the captain. Tried to anyways. And he said you've said it all already. Care to explain what he meant."

"Ah. That. Well, uh, we got into a bit of a shouting match this morning. And I might have said we'd, uh, leave. But…"

"Thought we were gonna talk to him together?"

"Yes, but…"

"Also thought we weren't plannin' to leave lest we have to?"

"I know, but…"

"So, how is it that you talked to him, alone, and told him we were leavin'?"

"I keep trying to tell you, but you keep interrupting."

Dead silence.

"You weren't there. You didn't hear him. He was going on about …"

"Know what? I don't care what the captain said. This is about you and me, sweetcakes. We decided to do this together, but at the first opportunity you took it upon yourself to confront him alone. I don't appreciate that. I'm gonna go find somethin' to eat."

Zoë left the bridge.


Dinner that evening was a strained affair. With two empty seats at the table, and tension in the air, no one felt much like talking. Once the meal was finished, Kaylee offered to help Zoë with clean-up.

"That's all right, I need some time alone. Thanks, anyway," Zoë responded as she filled the sink to wash the dishes and everyone else left the galley. She let her mind drift in the quiet of the room, not thinking of anything, enjoying the soothing quality of the repetitive movements. She heard Wash enter the room, but didn't turn to greet him.

He came up behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist, nuzzling his face into the crook of her neck, as he said, "I'm sorry, Zoë. You were right. I was wrong."

She tipped her head back sideways as she asked, "Yeah?"

"Yeah." He kissed the end of her nose then continued, "I shouldn't have tried to talk to Mal alone. Should have stuck to our plan."

While he talked, Zoë took her hands out of the sink and dried them off before turning in his arms. "You're forgiven, husband," she said as pulled him down for a kiss.

When they broke apart, Wash said, "It's just… Mal's so… I get so…"

Zoë put a finger to his lips, "I know. He is. But he can also be …"

"Yeah, I know. But when he's like this, all I want to do is be as far away as possible. You sure you want to stick it out here?"

"Yes, I'm sure. At least I want to try for a while longer. If he doesn't come around, we'll leave, I promise. But let's give him some time, okay?"

Wash leaned his forehead against Zoë's. He knew this battle probably wasn't over, but he was willing to call a truce. "Okay, lambie-toes. Want some help with the clean-up? I'd really like to get you in bed for some make-up sex. I'm told it can be amazing."

Zoë laughed and smacked him lightly on the arm, "Sure, sweetcakes. Although, you might want to eat first. I saved you some supper."

"Aw, I love my wife."


Much later that evening the rest of the crew was in bed and Simon was finishing his work in the infirmary. He hadn't seen Mal since bandaging his ankle, so decided to go looking for him. Maybe by now he's calmed down enough to at least talk about what's bothering him. On his way to their bunk, he spotted Mal on the bridge. Taking a deep breath, he went in to speak with his husband.

Laying his hand on Mal's shoulder, he quietly asked, "Mal?"

Mal leaned forward, away from Simon's hand, to flip some switches, "Yeah."

Simon pulled his hand back as if it had been burned. "How's the ankle?" he asked, trying for professionalism.


"Good. The ribs?"


"It's late."


"Are you coming to bed soon?"

"Takin' this shift for Wash."

"Ah. See you later, then?"


"Good night."


Simon turned in defeat and left the bridge, not having once made eye contact with Mal. Making his way to their bunk he wondered how long it would take before Mal got over his anger.

God knows we've had our share of fights over the years, but usually Mal yells, I snipe, and the anger blows itself out before it builds too high. This time, though, something's different. Yes, Mal yelled and I sniped, but now he's withdrawing into himself. I hope tomorrow is better.

With that thought Simon crawled into their cold, lonely bed and tried to sleep.


The next day was no better. Nor was the day after. Nor any of the many days that followed.

Mal no longer stomped around the ship. And although he didn't join in the conversations that went on around him, he didn't skip mealtimes either. But the rest of the time he avoided everyone as much as possible, only appearing when there was a job to be consulted on or completed. He stayed up nights, prowling the ship, sitting on the bridge, anything to prevent being in their bunk with Simon.

His attitude affected the entire crew. Zoë was her usual stoic self, but she had more of an edge to her than usual. Jayne questioned his authority every time a job came up. Kaylee lost more of her optimism every time he groused at her. Wash had a barely restrained tone of anger in his voice whenever they spoke. Book looked at him with sadness in his eyes, Inara with disgust, and Simon with gut-wrenching pain.

River just watched him, waiting.


"It's been three weeks, Zoë," Wash said as the two of them sat in the galley, his arm around her shoulders. "He hasn't come around. Hell, he hasn't even talked to you since we told him about the baby. You said…"

"I know, dear," Zoë sighed before taking a sip of the herbal tea she was drinking to calm her stomach. "And as much as I hate to admit it, you're right. We can't keep on like this. When we get to Beaumonde, we'll leave. Just wish we knew if there's a doctor there we can trust."

"Maybe Simon will…"

"Maybe I'll what?" Simon asked as he walked in.

"No, Wash, we can't ask him."

"Can't ask me what? Zoë? Wash?"

"Well, the thing is Simon," Wash started to explain, "Zoë and I have decided to leave Serenity once we land later today."

"We don't want to, but…"

"Yes, I know. Mal."

"Yeah. Look, we hate to ask," Wash apologized, "but there's no telling if there's a doctor where we're going, and…"

"And you'd like me to go with you." Simon stated as he sat down across from them.

"I'm sorry, Simon," Zoë said. "We shouldn't have asked."

"Why not? It's not like I'm doing anything here. Mal hasn't looked at me in three weeks, let alone…" Simon stopped and took a deep breath.

"Yeah, Simon, you've put up with a lot from him. Don't know how you do it." Wash sympathized.

"Well, I'm done putting up with it." Simon slapped his hands on the table. "Yes, I'll go with you." He reached across and took Zoë's hand in his, squeezing it gently, the pain he was feeling reflected in her eyes.

They sat quietly for a few moments, contemplating the enormity of the step they were about to take, before leaving the galley for their respective bunks. They all had some packing to do.

None of them noticed River standing in the shadows, tears streaming down her face.


River stayed in the shadows, waiting. She was still crying, but now there was a grim determination about her as well. She had to do something about this situation, and she had to do it soon, or her family would tear itself apart around her. She heard Mal coming from the bridge long before she saw him. Positioning herself where she couldn't be seen, she tensed her muscles and prepared for battle.

As Mal stepped into the galley, River whirled in front of him, kicked him in the stomach, grabbed him by the shirt when he doubled over, kneed him in the groin, and flipped him over her hip to the floor, where she stood over him brandishing a butcher knife she had placed conveniently on the table.

"What the gorram hell!?!" Mal yelled as he lay doubled over in pain.

"Have your permission." River stated matter-of-factly.


"He hurts."

"Ain't the only one," Mal muttered. "What are you talking about, Albatross?"

"Told you. You hurt him, I hurt you. Gave permission."

"Oh. Simon."

"Yes. Simon. Fix it." River leaned over Mal, bringing the knife closer to his throat. "Or I really will hurt you."

She dropped the knife on the table and walked out, leaving Mal lying on the floor.


When Mal was able to stand upright again, he figured he'd best take River's advice. He'd let things go too long, and it was past time to see if he could fix them. He'd heard Simon enter their bunk earlier, so knew that was where he'd find him.

As he dropped off the ladder, and saw Simon packing, it felt as if his heart stopped beating. "Simon? Wha'…," he hesitated, trying to regain control of his voice. "What are you doing?"

"Packing," Simon responded without turning around.

"Yeah, I can see that. Question is why?" he tried to keep the hurt out of his voice, not entirely succeeding.

"Because I'm leaving," Simon stated as he finally turned to face Mal, the grief in his eyes causing Mal more pain than River's kick.

"Leaving? But you promised…"

"Promised!?! So did you! And you've done nothing for the last three weeks but shut me out! How does that fit with your promise?!" Mal tried to put a hand on Simon's arm, but Simon threw it off as he continued, "Don't touch me! You've ignored me for three weeks, and you're not getting out of it by trying to make love to me!" Mal crossed his arms and leaned back against the ladder, watching as Simon paced their room yelling, "You are such a zhū tóu jiāo wán bà dán! You think yours are the only opinions that matter! The only one who gets upset! Well, you're not! I've put up with it for years, and after these past few weeks, I can't take it any more! When we get to Beaumonde later today, I'm leaving with Wash and Zoë. She's going to need me, and you so obviously don't!" He stopped and looked at Mal, bracing himself for whatever might be coming.

"You finished?" Mal asked. When Simon nodded, Mal ran a hand down his face and said, "Okay, first off I'm sorry." He held up a hand to stop Simon from interrupting and continued, "I know that's not enough, but I am. And I wasn't gonna try to make love to you, either. Just wanted to offer some comfort. But I can understand you not wantin' that from me right now, considerin' the way I've been treatin' you lately. As for me not needin' you, you couldn't be more wrong. I need you more'n I can ever say. I know I ain't showed it much in the past few weeks, but it's still true. Now, about you leavin' with Wash and Zoë, think the four of us need to talk 'bout that before any of you do somethin' we'll all regret. All right?"

When Simon silently agreed, they climbed up the ladder out of their bunk and crossed the hall to Wash and Zoë's where Mal knocked on the hatch. It opened to reveal Wash looking up at them.


"Wash." Mal hesitated, rubbing the back of his neck, and then said, "We need to talk."

Wash looked over to where Zoë was standing out of sight of Mal and Simon. When he sighed and started to climb out of the bunk, they figured she had urged him to listen to Mal. Once Zoë joined them, they all headed to the galley where Wash and Zoë sat next to each other on one side of the table, Simon sat close to them, and Mal stood leaning against a cupboard.

Mal pinched the bridge of his nose then began, "First, I owe you three, and everyone else on this boat, an apology. I've been sulkin' like a gorram child, when I should've been helpin' you celebrate." He shrugged slightly then continued with a hint of wistfulness, "And make no mistake, havin' a baby is definitely somethin' to be celebrated." When he saw Wash glance at Zoë then back to him in amazement, he joined them at the table and said, "I'm sorry I haven't said so before, but congratulations. I'm happy for you both. Now, I understand you're plannin' to get off at Beaumonde, that right?"

"It is," said Wash as Zoë nodded in agreement.

"Any particular reason it has to be Beaumonde?"

Wash glanced at Zoë as he said, "Well, no…"

"Good. What I mean is would you consider stayin' a while longer, all three of you? I want a chance to make up for my behavior, and don't think that'll happen in the next few hours. So, if you're all agreeable, I'm askin' you to be patient with me just a mite longer. If you still want to leave next time we're planetside, I won't argue. All right?"

Wash looked at Zoë, who shrugged slightly. When he nodded, she turned to Simon with a question in her eyes. The answer she saw in his face satisfied her, so she turned to Mal and answered, "Yes, Captain, we'll stay, at least 'til the next stop."

"Fair enough." He stood up and offered his hand to Wash, who stood also and shook it in surprise. "Congratulations again, Wash. I'm sure you'll make a fine father. Zoë," he said as he nodded at her.

She nodded back as she said, "Sir."

"Now, if you'll both excuse us, Simon and I have some more things to talk about." He motioned for Simon to lead the way out of the galley, leaving Wash and Zoë alone.

Wash turned to Zoë and asked, "So, you think Doc planned that?"

"What's that, sweetcakes?"

"The whole threatening to leave to make Mal come around thing."

"Wouldn't put it past him. Doc's got a devious mind."

"Hmm. Think it's safe to go to our bunk? We've got some unpacking to do."

"Unpacking? Is that what they call it now?" Zoë laughed as Wash smacked her on the butt on their way out of the door.

Nobody noticed River standing in the shadows with a huge smile on her face.


Simon preceded Mal into their bunk, and as Mal stepped off the ladder, Simon went into his embrace, pulling him down for a tender kiss. Breaking the kiss, but still holding Mal's face, he said, "I'm sorry I threatened to leave."

Mal pulled him closer as he commented, "You and little sis are gonna be the death of me." When Simon cocked an eyebrow at him in query, he smiled and said, "Some other time. Right now, just tell me you'll never leave."

"As long as you don't give me reason to, I won't."

Touching his forehead to Simon's, Mal asked, "Does this mean I'm forgiven?"

"Not totally. But you're on your way. Let's talk." Simon stepped away from Mal and sat in a chair by the desk.

Mal groaned and sat on the edge of the bed. "Where do I start?"

"How about with why you were so upset in the first place."

Mal rubbed his hands down his face and said, "Tiān a, ask an easy question why don't you? I don't know. I suppose I was…scared." He leaned forward with his hands clasped between his knees. "It was a gut reaction at first. But then I started to think about it, 'bout Zoë bein' pregnant, 'bout havin' a baby on board--which I never thought would happen seein's how Zoë 'n Wash been childless all these years, and it ain't like there's anybody else on board gonna have kids, 'less River and Kaylee surprise us. Anyway, then I started to think 'bout how dangerous our life really is for someone that small and defenseless. So I got to worryin' that Zoë, and Wash, might decide they needed to leave, to be somewhere safe. And that got me to worryin' 'bout how things would change around here without them. 'Bout how I'd lost control. And…"

"And so you decided to take control of the situation by shutting them out. So that when they left, you could pretend it didn't matter." Simon left his chair to kneel in front of Mal.

"Yeah, that sounds 'bout right. When'd you get to know me so well?" Mal took Simon's hands in his then brushed his lips across the knuckles.

"Believe me, it's taken years." Simon smiled at him. "So, why have you treated me like a pariah for the last three weeks?"

"Āi yā. Again with the easy questions. At first I was just so angry, and I knew if we tried to talk about it we'd have a fight. And I didn't want to fight."

"So…you ignored me so we wouldn't fight, causing us to have the biggest fight of our entire relationship? That doesn't make a lot of sense, love."

"Never said it did. Then as the days went by it got harder to come to you and apologize. And, you know me, I'm so stubborn…"

"You! Stubborn? Nah." Simon grinned.

"Bì zuĭ. I'm so stubborn I hoped you'd come to me."

"Again with the not making sense. You ignore me. So I'm supposed to come to you and…what? Apologize?"

"I know. Sounds ridiculous. What can I say? I wasn't thinkin' straight. I don't when we're fightin'. Forgive me, băo bèi?"

"Only if you stop calling me that."

"What? You don't like băo bèi? You've never said anything."

"I know, and I'm sorry; but no, I don't like to be called that. It reminds me too much of Giles, and a part of my past I'd just as soon forget. So, do you think you could call me something different?"

"Hmm…How about piánzhì de jiūcháyuán?" Mal asked teasingly.

Simon slapped him lightly and gave him a mock frown.

"No? Then how about xīn ài? You are you know. More than I ever thought possible." He pulled Simon up into his arms for a passionate kiss.

When they stopped to breathe, Simon said, "I've missed you, love. Let's not ever fight this long again."

"Agreed. I've missed you, too. Make love with me, ài chēng? I hear make-up sex is the best there is."

Pushing Mal down onto the bed, Simon straddled his husband and said, "That's what I hear, too. Shall we find out?"

Family: Part 2, Chapter 1 PG13


Tuesday, April 4, 2006 2:18 PM


Wow...this some deeply angsty stuff here. But so in-character for Mal....still broken from past losses that he just shuts down from thought of having another life that will trust him implictly (and without warrant, in Mal's mind).

However...the best was River just going Maidenhead on Mal's sorry pigu:D Ho-lee shit! That was some serious wailing...and it only lasted mere moments! Definitely a bad idea to make Simon upset or little sis will lay you out;)


Tuesday, April 4, 2006 4:25 PM



Glad you liked it! I usually write fluff, as you probably know *g*, so writing this angsty piece was quite the endeavor for me! Good to know I kept it in character.

Yeah, loved writing River kickin' Mal's sorry pigu! :D He so totally deserved it! *smacks*

Thanks for commenting!

"I love my captain."

Saturday, June 10, 2006 3:31 AM


go river, go!


Sunday, June 11, 2006 4:30 PM



Yeah, if it weren't for River... *g*

Thanks for reading!

"I love my captain."


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