Scar Petals - Chapter 4
Monday, April 24, 2006

Kate can't cope and has to run from The Kestrel, Hoban Washburne is still on board her ship, and there's a little private party in one corner of the bar...


Chapter 4

Kate sits alone in the bar, in one of the darker corners, one hand curled round a smeary cup of some godawful liquor, the other cradling her head. It doesn’t hurt; just feels way heavy. She thinks about unpinning the thick red braid that she’s got coiled round her head, but she’d only have to do it up again later. It probably wasn’t very professional, scooting off to the nearest bar when they docked, but she’d had to get out. He’d called her Mal. She’d had to get out.

She thinks back to the medi-bay and shuts her eyes. No matter what Sallie had done, Hoban Washburne just wouldn’t let go of that gorram dinosaur toy. The T-Rex. Lucky it wasn’t the triceratops; its horns and spiky bits would have cut into his hand like, well, like a Reaver. She shudders and takes a swig of the foul spirits, spiced with nutmeg or something equally revolting.

There’s a party over in one corner of the bar. Or something very like a party. There’s a preppy-looking guy standing up, soused out of his mind, trying to get a young girl’s attention, but she’s listening to something one of the other men has said. An older man. A handsome man he is, kinda, but with a few rough edges. A beautiful woman, who’s wearing the most beautiful dress Kate’s ever seen, keeps making sarcastic-type faces, but her eyes keep sliding to the handsome man when he ain’t looking. Kate smiles in spite of herself.

She wonders what’s happening back on board the Kestrel. She hopes the crew don’t see her as some kind of moonbrain, walking out like that. She’d bolted from the medi-lab, grabbed her brother’s coat – her coat – and just escaped. Tom, at least, will understand; he’s had to escape a few things in his time. Maybe they’ll all just think it’s because of Stuart and Kerry dying. Tell the truth, she isn’t quite sure what it is, anyway.

Sallie’s a damn good doctor, Kate thinks, taking another mouthful of the terrible hooch, then rubbing her hand over her eyes. After he’d spoken her name, that Hoban Washburne, he’d gone into some kinda seizure, shuddering and jerking and pretty much choking. Sallie had just plunged straight in, and shot him up with – well, with something. Needle the size of a gun barrel, probably. Kate pulls a face.

The other party’s started singing now. Trying to sing, she thinks, truthful if not charitable. It’s a happy song, full of laughter. Something about Canton. Kate’s been there once; not much to sing about. There’s a big guy standing on one of the seats, conducting the others. He’s wearing the most stupid hat she’s ever seen in her life.


She looks up. Lucy and Tom are standing beside her table, looking awkward. Lucy shuffles her feet.

“Uh, Captain…” “Wuo de ma.” She jumps up. “He died, didn’t he?”

“Huh? Cai bu shi! Hell, no.” Tom shakes his head. “Sallie’s got it covered. Will’s helping; ‘s like he needs to do something now Kerry ain’t there. He’s better. He’s out again, though.”

Kate sits back down, slowly. She lets out a shivering breath, and feels the cold sweat break out on her skin. “Thank God.”

“Thank God he’s out?”

“Thank God he’s alive, dumbass,” says Lucy sharply, and sits down next to Kate. “Look, Cap, we wouldn’t have come, but we got worried when you didn’t come back. And when - ” she looks at Tom.

“When what?” Kate puts down her cup.

“Well, he didn’t go out straight aways,” Lucy admits.


Tom’s face for once is serious, squinting against the smoky atmosphere of the bar. “He was uh... asking... for you, Captain.”

“Again?” Kate looks shocked.

Lucy nods. “We think he musta heard someone talking about you. He was trying to say Malory, I reckon. Then he said Captain, and then.. well, then he just started screaming. For you.”

Kate shuts her eyes again. She can see it; that poor man on the whiteness of the medical bed, his skin vying for pallor with the sheets, dusted with freckles like some fey creature’s flicked gold dust at him, his eyes half-closed and his lashes glimmering like copper wires.

“Then he fitted again,” says Tom sadly, “and Sallie gave him something blue, something massive she said, and now he’s just sleeping.”

Kate doesn’t want to be here. She wants to be far, far away from the Kestrel, on shore leave, lost in Persephone or somewhere with Stuart, sharing decent wine with him, bringing him good food in the way he would never let her do while they were on ship, serving him like a wife.

If she thinks hard enough, she can shut out the bar, shut out the pain, lose herself in the ocean blue of Stuart’s eyes, in the warmth of his arms. The velvet bedspread is soft beneath her back as they lie together, curled up in their own little bubble, her head on his shoulder. He reaches out, takes a strawberry from the nearby table, touches it to her lips. She breathes in the sweet scent and bites into it, and the juice spills into her mouth, too much, too much, and she reaches into the dresser drawer for a napkin to clean her face, and the dresser drawer is filled with little plastic dinosaurs, all looking up at her expectantly, laughing at her strawberry-splashed mouth.

Stuart’s eyes are dark brown!

Kate recoils, lashes out at the thought, the dream, the memory, whatever it was, and finds herself back in the bar; she has just sent her cup flying, the nutmeg liquor spilling all over Tom, over the table.

“Ai ya!” Tom brushes at his pants in alarm. “Captain?”

“Sorry.” Kate sinks back into her seat. She wishes she were having a good time. Like the party in the corner. She glances over at them again.

Spoke too soon. The pretty girl’s in tears; the preppy type is trying to comfort her, and failing. She shoves him away, and he crashes into the guy in the dumb hat, who glares at him and mutters something. The handsome man and the gorgeous-looking woman in the fancy dress are arguing now, bitter, heated. Right at the back in the furthest corner there’s a little teenage girl cowering, her hands up to protect herself, her hair all over her face. So much for having a good time.

One of the women, dark, long-legged, sad-eyed, is turned away from the party, looking out over the bar, but not actually seeing anything. Kate’s used that one many times. Keeps everyone away, keeps ‘em distant. She looks hurt. Not medical hurt, not like she’s been shot or nothin’, just like something’s squeezed all the blood out of her heart, all the meaning out of her, and then put the bits back without worryin’ how it’s gonna affect her. Not just hurt, either – just plain beaten down. Like she’s lost all she’s got, and then some. Kate wonders if that’s how she looks. It’s for sure as hell how she feels.

As if she senses Kate watching her, the woman glances over, allows her eyes to focus again. She’d gone somewhere else in her head before, that much was sure. But now she was there, seriously there, and her eyes were cool and appraising and serious, as if she could see what was on Kate’s mind as much as Kate could see the pain in hers.

Amen, sister, thinks Kate, then wonders why.

The woman raises an eyebrow, then lifts her cup to Kate, then drinks, keeping her eyes focused, steady. Kate returns the gesture of sorts, one woman to another, one sister to another, one soldier to another.

The woman turns back to her gang, and Kate’s left feeling – well, somehow kinda stronger, although she doesn’t know or understand why. It’s like the woman, queenly, Amazonian, powerful even though her pain, has given her something, has lifted her up by that heavy crown of red hair and set her on her feet. She should go back to the Kestrel; Sallie will be worried.

She puts down her cup and starts to get to her feet; she can see the party in the corner dispersing slowly, one by one. The beautiful woman sweeps out of the bar haughtily, her head held high, her skirts swishing and glittering, heavy with golden embroidery. The preppy man’s guiding the scared-looking girl now, and the pretty girl who was crying so bitterly is just sitting there as if she doesn’t know what to do.

Poor kid, thinks Kate, then smiles a little as the big guy plops his stupid hat on the girl’s head and scoops her up like a princess. She shuts her eyes and leans on his shoulder, pain written all over her face.

“Come on,” says Kate, patting Tom’s shoulder. “We’ll go back and see if he’s any better, dong ma?”

“Yeah,” says Lucy, linking her arm through Kate’s. “Jie jie, I… I’m sorry about what happened to Stuart.” She bites her lip.

Kate freezes up, like someone’s shoved a steel rod along her spine. She feels colder, taller, brittle. She draws Phil’s coat around herself, trying to relax into the soft suede, failing. All she can see is her bullet burning its path between those smiling ocean blue eyes.

“Brown eyes!” she cries out, and slams her free hand down on the table.

“Jie jie!” Lucy grabs her hand. “Don’t! What do you mean? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you!”

Kate can hear herself breathing, tiny little gasps, like the air’s too cold to breathe. “Nothing. It’s nothing, Lu.” She has to try and get a grip on herself. “I know you’re sorry. But it wasn’t your fault.”

Lucy leans in and gives her a hug, drawing back with worry in her eyes when Kate doesn’t react to the embrace. She’s like a waxwork captain, stiff and unyielding, armoured by fear or pain or loss – or something else.

The handsome man is heading for the door now, the dark, sad-eyed woman at his side. Kate supposes they’re a couple, but they don’t look it, even though they’re arm in arm.

“Sir,” the woman says and nods in Kate’s direction.

She sees it then, sees him wearing what she never saw when he was over in the far corner, its folds swinging around him, its brushed-soft sheen catching the low lights where it’s been rubbed in patches, the bullet hole up by his shoulder. She gazes at him, like a mouse caught in the stare of a cobra.

He looks at the woman on his arm, then looks at her, at Kate, looks her up and down, and she stands her ground, facing him like he was family, all of them caught in some kind of dance that was begun so many years ago in a little valley that killed so many.

Then he salutes.

Kate feels her arm raising itself to copy him, to acknowledge him, and for a second, or for a minute, or an hour, or a day, hell, it could be a lifetime for all she knows, they all stand there, to attention; three Browncoats remembering Serenity Valley.

He and the woman are gone before she realises it, and she never gets the chance to tell him she never fought, it was her brother, it wasn’t her even though she felt it all, every gunshot, every death, right up until they sent Phil’s coat home in a box.

She takes a step away from the table, fastens the coat, and turns to her crew.

“Let’s go.”


Monday, April 24, 2006 1:32 PM


Been looking forward to this for along time! Well worth it! Can't wait to read more!
You got the characters really well.
Hope it works out ok for eveyone though.

Monday, April 24, 2006 2:11 PM


Come on, let them find out who each other is!!! God, and Wash is like RIGHT THERE and Zoe's all sad? oh, this is too hard. Write really fast!!!

Monday, April 24, 2006 2:25 PM


I'm really enjoying this series. Your characterizations are great, and I loved Kate's observations of Serenity's crew. More please!

Monday, April 24, 2006 5:59 PM


This was great, full of vivid descriptions and angst! They were all right there, and I could just envision their little group. And the way you describe Kate and her pain. And how she keeps seeing blue eyes instead of brown. That's foreboding of some complications!

keep writing!

Monday, April 24, 2006 6:26 PM


Yep...gotta back squish here....if Kate's tripping on Wash's blue peepers, I get the feeling you have some angsty stuff ahead for Wash, Kate, the crew of the Kestrel and the BDHs;)

Can't wait for more:)


Tuesday, April 25, 2006 7:24 AM


Angsty stuff?? Complications? Me??

I couldnt possibly comment!

I want to know whose Goddess I am, though *hee*

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 9:25 AM


love, love, love it! can't wait for more!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 1:20 AM


Great installment. The two groups in the same room...awesome.

I'd love to know what the arguement was about?

I really liked the salute at the end.

Friday, April 28, 2006 3:46 PM


wow that was just like an episode of know the one's were you just wanna scream advice at the screen!!!! TALK TO HER!!! WASH IS RIGHT THERE!!!!!!!!!! argggghhh! write fast!ease my pain.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006 9:59 AM


Why is Wash calling exclusively for Mal? Why not Zoe?

Aw Jayne caring for Kaylee, good times. I don't like em as a pair, but as friends. Most grand.

Y'know, the whole 'Wash is alive' thing is kinda corny, but you write so well, I can so easily see past that. Keep em coming!

Tuesday, May 2, 2006 10:32 AM


Without giving too much away AgentRusco, he's calling for Mal because either he thinks something might have happened to Zoe - or for other reasons not yet explained :)

I'm well aware the 'Save Wash' thing is 'corny' as you put it, but I'm trying to make it as non-corny as possible...

Thursday, May 4, 2006 2:23 AM


Wow, that last bit was kind of surreal. Poor Wash, and I too want to know why he isn't screaming for Zoe unless he is wanting Mal to explain just what the good gorram happened and where in the nine hells his wife is. Hope he gets some answers soon, that is if he can stay awake long enough. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, May 4, 2006 12:06 PM


"It’s a happy song, full of laughter. Something about Canton."
^^^Had me laughing out loud^^^

Scenes like this make me so mad that River is still so hurt, because she is the one who could set it all straight.

Saturday, July 1, 2006 3:21 AM


GAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! what's...he's...wash...mal...GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!



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Scar Petals - Chapter 5
In which we find Wash is awake. This chapter is for bookaddict, guywhowantsafireflyofhisown, BlueEyedBrigadier and AgentRusco, who have seemed to enjoy it (yay) and kept me writing when I didnt feel like doing any more. Sorry, I've had a bad week. :)

Scar Petals - Chapter 4
Kate can't cope and has to run from The Kestrel, Hoban Washburne is still on board her ship, and there's a little private party in one corner of the bar...

Scar Petals - Chapter 3
Zoe tries to stay together. Mal tries to help. The crew of the Kestrel may have a problem. Set at end of BDM, so spoilers. Slight naughty language in translations. Occasional grimness. Please enjoy...

Scar Petals - Chapter 2
Set at the end of the BDM, so spoilers. PG13 for gore and grimmity, but will be NC17 later I suspect. This story is for ItsAWash and EngineAngel.

Scar Petals
The crew have gone to fight the Reavers, leaving Wash alone. Spoilers from the BDM - set towards the end of the movie. Will be NC17 later. PG13 for gory fighting, I guess. This fanfic is for ItsAWash and EngineAngel, who inspired me to get on with it and get it posted.