FAITH SERIES: 1. "Survivors"
Saturday, May 27, 2006

"In the aftermath of Miranda it is not just Zoe who is grieving. Beyond the grave, Wash is a soul in torment."



SUMMARY: "In the aftermath of Miranda it is not just Zoe who is grieving. Beyond the grave, Wash is a soul in torment." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

It was hard. In an unforgiving 'verse it was the hardest thing Zoe Washburne had ever had to do but even after the funeral there had come the leaving Wash behind part and that open wound where her heart had been kept bleeding and bleeding until she was sure it must run dry. Only death was a fickle thief, sly and without a lick of remorse. There would be no easy end for her, no sudden stopping of a heart that didn't want to beat any more. Too much still to endure before she could join her beloved *zhangfu*. Of course the crew knew, understood, suffered for and with her but it wasn't the same. A pain like this could never be eased with the presence of others, they only magnified just how alone in the 'verse she was.

Mal didn't try to cheer her up like Kaylee did. Didn't offer platitudes or words of wisdom like Inara. Never offered to listen if she wanted to talk about it like Simon, or spar with Jayne to get it out of her system. The Captain knew love wasn't something that you could rinse out of your heart and knew Zoe didn't want that. Instead he shared quiet moments with her, not asking or expecting anything. Not giving advice or trying to take her mind off that great aching sorrow tugging at her heart. He stayed the same as he had always been, a steady rock. Unyielding and loyal from his first breath to his last. Understanding needing no words to prove its' cause. When she looked into his eyes Zoe found something she didn't realise she needed: acceptance. And to her over burdened heart it gave her ease while little by little the numbness of grief and shock allowed feelings to seep back in.

Even as the months went by Zoe would finish her day, retreat to her bunk and let the tears roll hot and unhindered down her dusky cheek.

*Don't cry, bao bei, don't cry!*

*Wash," The deep voice rumbled on another plane. *She can't hear you*

Wash gritted his teeth and tried to block out the sympathetic murmur of Shepherd Book's voice. Tried not to wince at the compassion emanating from the man. Was it too much to ask for a little privacy here?

*Wash,* Said Book more gently. *It's only normal for Zoe to mourn*

The pilot spun round, eyes red rimmed but sparking with muted anger, anxiety and emotion. *Enough with the 'tryin' to make things better'. Unless you can go back in time an' put this right I don't wanna hear it, dong ma?*

*Wash, I only want to help*

*Help?* Wash gave a bitter laugh and flung his arms out wide. *How in the nine hells are you gonna help, Book? Take a look around you - we're DEAD. Not sleepin', not dreamin' but dead. So unless you know any way to make this not have happened just, just leave me alone!*

The Shepherd sighed. Hurting because his friend was in pain. *I can help. Qing*

But Wash couldn't stand it. Couldn't take the knowing looks, the sad compassionate eyes, the low mournful voice like a funeral dirge playing endlessly in his non-corporeal ears. *I don't want your sympathy or your prayers. No offence Shepherd, I just want Zoe*

* * * * *

Simon and Kaylee were talking in hushed tones. Everyone else was off the ship on a job except them and River. Simon didn't want his sister overhearing their conversation and blurting it out at the meal table. "Ya sure, Simon?"

"As sure as I can be without doing a physical exam."

Kaylee was not sure whether it was good news or bad news. Even as her heart leapt with hope she was mentally holding her breath in case it was the last straw for Zoe. "What ya gonna do?"

He shrugged. "Nothing much I can do until she comes to me."

"Aw but Simon..."

"No, Kaylee. This is something we can't interfere in."

A horrible thought crawled out of the dark shadows of Kaylee's mind. "What if she don't want it? What if...?"

"If ifs and ands were pots and pans there would be no need for tinkers!"

Simon and Kaylee jumped as River appeared behind them. So much for keeping their suspicions quiet. Even though Kaylee didn't have a clue what River meant she just knew the girl had guessed or more probably, had known before they did.

"River, it's not good to eavesdrop on other people's conversations." Said Simon quietly but firmly.

"Wasn't eavesdropping. Could hear your panic shouting all the way down in the cargo bay."

Kaylee's eyes went round then realised River had been meaning their mental thoughts. How did she do that? And how could they stop her doing it at the most inopportune times?

"You're afraid."

"It's too soon, sweetie, an' Zoe's hurtin' so much." "You're wrong. Nature knows best."

"River..." But Simon was talking to empty air. His sister had delivered her pronouncement and left, her bare feet making no sound as she danced away like a dryad. There had always been something ethereal about his little sister.

* * * * *

The Captain had been surreptitiously watching his second as they made the drop. Noting how the lifting and carrying wasn't so graceful. The walking and talking more tiring than it had any right to be. Naturally his tactful mercenary had no notion of when to keep his gorram mouth shut.

"What in *diyu*'s the matter with ya? I feel like I'm liftin' these boxes on my own."

Before Zoe could rip into him, Mal took her end of the crate and nodded to where Sampson was waiting by the door. "Make sure he pays the full measure, *dong ma*?"

Zoe huffed. "I can lift it fine, sir."

"Not sayin' you can't, just don't want ya throwin' the gorram cargo at Jayne. Don't mind him bein' flattened none but be bad for business if anythin' but his head broke. Could mess up the whole gorram deal."

She smirked and went to collect their coin. Jayne scowled at Mal and spoke in a stage whisper. "What's wrong with her? Ain't been right for weeks now."

"Jayne," Mal hissed in a low urgent voice, dipped in deadly and full of warning. Not that Jayne noticed that fine line he kept crossing. "Don't want to be havin' this conversation again."

The mercenary began to open his mouth to complain but the look on the Captain's face stopped him in his tracks. Satisfied that the man had finally got the message, Mal finished helping unloading the cargo then watched as Zoe gave a nod to show they had been paid in full. His sombre face lit with a genuine smile and Mal shook Sampson's hand. Not nothing made him happier than a job going smooth.

* * * * *

Wash had been sulking. Not exactly ignoring the Preacher but not engaging him in conversation. Book watched thoughtfully, his kind eyes taking in everything. They watched in silence as Zoe, Mal and Jayne rode back to Serenity on the mule for once flush with cashy money. Zoe got off a bit awkwardly then excused herself after handing over the pouch to the Captain and went to her bunk. "Expect you in the commons room for splittin' the money."

"Wild horses - or Jayne - wouldn't keep me away, sir."

"*Wei!*" The mercenary protested.

The Captain gave a little smile. Any come back from Zoe was like a gift to be treasured these days. Too often not nothing would bring a smile or witty comment however scathing from her lips and he missed it. He missed that dark wicked humour that was as much a trademark for his friend as bad shirts and joking around were for Wash. Mayhap his friend was on that long painful road back. Leastways he hoped so.

Shepherd Book turned to Wash. *There may be a way*

At first Wash was non plussed. *A way?*

*A way for you to go back after all. Be with Zoe again but I warn you Wash, it wouldn't be the same."

Wash didn't hear the words of caution, his heart fixating on the thin sliver of hope. Eyes shining suspiciously bright. *I'll take it!*

*Slow down Wash, you don't know the terms, what it will entail. You will need a lot of patience*

*Mei shi, tell me what to do! Just don't tell me this is a joke*

Shepherd Book gave his friend a gentle smile, something oddly enigmatic in the look he gave him but Wash didn't care.

* * * * *

Months later the silence of the Black was broken by loud lusty cries. Everyone was crowded into Serenity's infirmary, Simon gently lifting the precious newborn child as Inara wrapped the infant in a soft blanket Kaylee had bought on Pacquin. Clamping the umbical chord in two places inches apart, Simon cleaned the baby then left Inara and Kaylee to finish while he severed the chord. Malcolm Reynolds stood in quiet awe, watching the miracle of life return to Zoe something precious that had been lost. His heart ached with happiness for her though the joy was tinged with sadness because Wash wasn't there to share the moment.

Inara handed the baby to Zoe, mother and child staring at each other in mutual adoration. The crying stopping the instant she touched her tiny perfect son. It was Kaylee who said what the others were quietly thinking.

"Ain't that somethin'? Baby looks the image of Wash."

No one cringed or looked uncomfortable at the mention of the dead man's name, too caught up in the fascination of new life rising from the ashes of the most terrible grief. Mal put a hand on Zoe's shoulder and smiled down at the baby. It was the strangest thing but he could swear the kid recognised him. An oddly wise and knowing look stared back at the Captain. Mal blinked. Mayhap he wouldn't mention it to Zoe. Was enough crazies in the madhouse without him joining them his own self.

"Not crazy." River admonished, though there was no anger behind the words. "On Earth that Was we would have been called eccentric."

"Huh, ain't nothin' eccentric about nut jobs." Said Jayne.

Later, as the baby lay happy and content in his mother's arms sleep tugged at the child's eyelids. The door to the new world closing briefly as he peered into the past. Wash blinked and found himself staring at Shepherd Book. The man was a blaze of shimmering white in a background of gold. Though Wash didn't understand he knew that he had Book to thank for this most unexpected of gifts. *Xie xie, Book*

*Bu xie. There was no way you could have gone back Wash.* He explained gently. *That life is over but this new one is just beginning. Use it wisely, my friend.*

*I will.* Wash promised just as the Preacher was swallowed up in a blaze of light so intense he closed his eyes. When he opened them again it was to see the woman he loved more than life itself cradling him in her arms. Tears rolling freely down Zoe's face, her solemn lips smiling with the kind of joy money couldn't buy.

"Healing now."

Zoe did not respond to River. In fact nobody made any impression on her but the babe in her arms. She remembered what she had told Wash when they had gone to help Inara's friends at the Heart of Gold. 'You and me would make a beautiful baby. I want to meet that child one day'. Oh yeah. Her smile made her literally glow with happiness. "Welcome to the 'verse, little one."

The baby gurgled back at her and waved his arms and legs as if too excited to keep still. His little right hand opening to grab the stegosaurus as he laughed up into his mother's face. Oh yes, baby was already making his father proud. His presence turning what had been a ship of tears to one of joy and hope. Kaylee wiped back a tear and squeezed Simon's hand. * * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*zhangfu* = husband *bao bei* = precious/treasure *dong ma* = understand? *qing* = please *diyu* = hell *wei* = hey! *bu xie* = you're welcome *xie xie* = thanks *mei shi* = it doesn't matter


Saturday, May 27, 2006 2:17 PM


There have been alot of 'Zoe's pregnant' fics doin' the rounds and even a few 'Wash from beyond the grave' fics. But none have put the two together the way you have here. Awesome characterisation and alot of fun. Also very sentimental.



Saturday, May 27, 2006 3:42 PM


Heartwarming and very nice! Well done!

"I love my captain."

Saturday, May 27, 2006 7:49 PM


Lovely work, Alison. Love baby fics, especially Zoe ones. Real life has shown a number of occasions where a child is born after the father has died in an accident or something, so I have no problems with the believability of the subject.

Plus I can just imagine Wash wanting to hang around cuz of his devotion to Zoe:P


Sunday, May 28, 2006 3:33 AM


Interesting take indeed! I like the idea and it's beautifully written.

I like Mal's acceptance and River being eccentric not crazy. Great work!

Sunday, May 28, 2006 11:16 AM


*River leans over the crib:"No, you're not big enough to fly the ship yet. My job for now. Don't make faces. Be patient." (dances away)*

Very well done. Please write more!

Sunday, May 28, 2006 12:36 PM


"On Earth-That-Was, we'd have been called eccentric."
"Ain't nothin' eccentric about nutjobs."

That was one of the best River/Jayne lines ever!

Great fic, looking forward to more.

Friday, June 9, 2006 3:04 AM


Oh Ali! This is WONDERFUL. A beautiful mix of sad and happy, sci-fi and fantasy. Very, very good.

(And at last I have a chance to maybe keep pace with your writing!)


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.