Shadows Fall - part 6
Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Last chapter; Serenity gets ready to leave Shadow. Some secrets come out. M/I-centric.


CHAPTER Six Disclaimer: see part 1 ---------------------------------- He’d never dreamt that waking up in her arms would be like this… Silent, they were both dressed, and it was awkward. He’d cried himself to sleep last night, soothed by her whispers, comforted by her gentle touch. She didn’t ask questions, although he was sure she wanted answers. Maybe it was time he started talking. Someone had to know the truth…

She kissed his forehead when she saw his eyes open, and she smiled.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hey,” his voice was hoarse and his throat still hurt from the many sobs last night.

“You feeling better?”

“I… I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. You can’t always be the strong one.”

“I try to be,” he said with a weak, but proud smile.

Another kiss on his head.

“Want to talk about it?” Her voice was soft and the look in her eyes almost like that of a mother… No… a lover. Only they can have passion and compassion combined like that in one glance.

Mal swallowed hard. He wanted to talk. Tell someone. Tell her. He just wasn’t sure he could. He had kept the secret for so long now, not even sure the words would be still there…

“It happened after the war,” he started, “We lost, so many died. I didn’t know what to do, where to go. The only place I’ve ever known was home, and that’s where I returned to. Ma always said to me in her letters she wanted me back. The ranch was gonna be mine one day, had to be there to learn the trade, not be off fighting a war we’d never win…”

Mal stared into the distance, letting the memories come back as he told Inara about Shadow and his life on the ranch. She didn’t interrupt, feeling he needed this. She just combed her fingers though his hair and listened intently at the stories he told her about being a young boy surrounded by fields and horses and how he went away to fight the good fight…

“After it was over, I came back… Got a ride on a transportship from Boros, dropped me off in the same docks as we’re now. Didn’t waste any time in the city and I came back here…” He paused a moment, and the faint smile that had been playing on his face for a while had disappeared. Inara could swear she saw fresh tears well up in his eyes now. His voice trembled as he continued.

“There was nothing left. The shed had burned down, and was still… There was still smoke. Cattle was loose too. I called out for my ma and Jefferson, but they never came…” He paused again, wiping away the tears that were now running free, “Found ‘em in the house, hanging down from the ceiling in nets… Gorramit!” He cursed, then started sobbing again. Inara held him close as she tried to comfort him.

“Who did…” She started to ask.

“Reavers,” his muffled voice said, and then he pushed her aside a bit. He needed to finish…”It was reavers… I buried them, then left this piece of rock with all the money and bits of precious I didn’t want to leave behind. Never looked back.”

“And you bought Serenity…”

“I bought my freedom.”


Zoë tossed and turned as she lay alone in the big bed. She couldn’t sleep anymore. Letting out a sigh, she reached over to the alarm-clock to check the time. 10.08 am. This must’ve been the longest she’s slept in years. Then again, those other years she hadn’t lain awake with too many thoughts on her mind, and then there was the nausea… Whoever called it morning sickness had a lousy sense of humour.

Simon had fussed, urging her to get enough rest and oddly enough, Jayne agreed, offering to clean the common area too.

“You’ve got that baby to think of now,” he’d said in a surprisingly concerned voice.

She’d agreed with a sigh, going to bed early. Funny how everybody would fuss over something. “Just like my husband,” she thought as she stroked the little bump that was forming in her lower abdomen. ”Daddy” she whispered with a sad smile, “He’d loved this, kiddo. He would’ve loved you.”

She roughly wiped away the tear that spilled down her cheek and got up. It was a new day. Time to face some new challenges…

She found her challenge in the kitchen, sitting at the table with a cup of steaming coffee in his hands.

“’Mornin’, Sir,” she greeted him as she took the seat across from him.

“Zoë, “ he acknowledged with a short nod. “Feeling better?”

She nodded as she helped herself to some coffee as well.

”You mind if we talked, sir?” She asked as she looked him straight into the eyes.

“Of course not,“ he replied, a hint of worry in his voice, “What’s on your mind?”

“You know Wash and I have been talking about children, before...” She paused.

“Yeah, I remember. You kept complaining on how he refused your plea for offspring.” Mal noted with a sad smile.

“He no longer refused.”

“Damn straight he refused. Imagine that, a boat full of …” Mal gesticulated wildly.

“Sir… I’m pregnant.” She interrupted his rant, knowing he didn’t hear her the first time…

Mal stopped, his hand mid-air.

”Zoë, this ain’t a laughing matter.”

“I’m not laughing sir…”

“You’re…” Mal’s voice trailed off once he realized the implications. “Pregnant, Sir,” Zoë supplied as she watched various emotions cross his face.

“I get to be the godfather,” Mal stated as he got up to rinse his cup.

“Of course, Sir,” Zoë said soothingly as she watched him walk over to the door.

“Good, now, I got me a ship to see to.”

Zoë smiled as he left. That went better than expected…


The grounds looked the same as the day he’d left. Still the same brown-greyish sands and cement… The city was flourishing again and life had returned to his dusty rock. To those who didn’t know better, it looked like as fine a place as any to raise a family. Not really a central planet, but close enough to the core to benefit from high-tech facilities and good schools. Other than that, there’s some pretty nature around too. But they was them that didn’t know about the horrors that had plagued the planet… Mal knew, and he woulda been a dirty liar if he said he weren’t glad to leave his planet once more. Kaylee had announced at breakfast that Serenity was all fixed, and Mal hadn’t wasted a minute getting his vessel ready for take-off again. Leavin’ and not looking back again always seemed like a plan. This wasn’t home anymore… Serenity was.

“Ready to take her up in the air, Little one?” Mal asked as he looked over to his co-pilot.

River smiled as she stared back at him, nodding as she took a hold of the steering wheel. “Flying, not fleeing anymore,” she said cryptically as she started fiddling with some dials.

“Don’t know about that, sweetheart. Think the Alliance’s still a mite ticked off.”

“Dairuo muji!” She giggled, “Meant you, silly captain. You’ve seen it now. No more ghosts.” River smiled as she started Serenity’s engine, taking them out into the black again.

Mal let out a sigh, “Guai. Just keep her steady, lil’Albatross”

“Stop worrying, Cap’n. I can do this. Just go to her.”

Mal frowned for a second, then, as he saw that the ship was nice on course, and that his pilot indeed could do this, he left...


”Jayne!” Mal called out as he entered the kitchen. The big mercenary was standing near the counter, filling his cup with some coffee, “I uhm… I need you with me when we get to Persephone.”


“Zoë’s staying on the ship. She… She ain’t feeling so well”

”Thought she was only throwing up in the mornin’s?” Jayne asked as he took a big gulp.

”You know?!” Mal asked, dumbfounded.

“That she got knocked up?”

“That she’s pregnant, yes.”

“She told me,’ Jayne stated, avoiding Mal’s eyes as he put down his cup.

“She…I’m…” Mal stuttered, too surprised to say something. How come he always was the last to know?!?


She found him sitting in his bunk, staring into nothingness… His mind obviously miles away.

”So here you’re hiding out,” she said in a good-hearted voice.

“I’m not hiding, I’m…”

“Sulking,” she supplied.

”I’m not sulking.”

”Then what are you doing?”

“I’m… I’m…brooding,” he concluded.

“That’s the same as sulking.” She gave him a weird look.

”No it isn’t… Brooding is manlier.”

He could be such a baby sometimes. She let out a sigh. “Yes it is Mal… You’re just mad cause you’re the last to know about the baby. And you’ve been avoiding me,” she stated as she went to sit next to him on the bed. It was true. They’d barely spoken two words since Serenity was back up in the sky. Even since they were still on the ground. She hated it… No banter, not a talk… Nothing…

”Permaybehaps I have,” he said in a quiet voice, his fingers playing with lint on his old army blanket. His eyes were cast downwards, too scared to look her in the eye. “Inara I…” His voice caught in his throat and he paused as he looked for the right words to continue. ”I’m just scared of losing you…”

“Mal…” she started, but he motioned for her to be quiet.

“I was raised a Christian, Inara. The good and almighty God who would bring peace and salvation, I believed in him something fierce! And I thought he’d help us in the war, that we’d be like him standing up against the Alliance like he stood up against the Romans.”

She put a comforting hand on his shoulder. They’d never really talked about religion before. Sure she knew that Mal kept Book’s preacher-talk at bay and that he sometimes made jokes about it all… Never meant no harm by it, but never serious. He was an unbeliever.

“We lost the war, Inara. Backup never came, and I lost my faith.”

She remained silent for a moment, not really sure how to react.

“God doesn’t fight wars, Mal. People do.”

He let out a sigh…

“So many died there, Inara… I prayed for them and me every night just to make it through it alive. We lost our brothers, the war, then I lost my family. I had nothing left except my freedom. I shut everyone out, even Zoë in a way and I stopped believing in anything. Book told me otherwise…”

She gave him a weak smile and pulled him into her embrace, gently rocking back and forth as he silently wept.

“What do you believe in then?” She asked in a soft voice.

“Right now, the future… you… us,” he said as he looked up. And for the first time Inara saw the boy in his eyes as he kissed her. “I love you, Inara.” He paused after he’d whispered those words as he put a small strand of hair back behind her ear.

She smiled shyly and cast her eyes downwards. He’d said he loved her before… That morning he woke up in her arms, a whisper as he passed her on the ramp… All of that meant nothing until now – now he believes it – she’s his.

**** Epilogue to come...


Wednesday, April 26, 2006 7:54 AM


You like making us Browncoats cry, don'tcha, CCke? Cuz I am about ready to weep here;)

This was a fine piece of writing, if a mite short. Can't wait for the epilogue:P



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