FAITH SERIES: 2. "Coping Mechanism"
Sunday, May 28, 2006

"Simon does not know what to think of the new addition, especially with regards to the Captain."



SUMMARY: "Simon does not know what to think of the new addition, especially with regards to the Captain." 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

* * * * *

Funny how the years came and went in the Black. The walls of Serenity more comforting than any other place in the 'verse. It had taken a long time for Simon Tam to realise that not only was his life on this ship but so was his heart. Since the birth of Zoe's son Joshua, he and Kaylee had grown even closer. Some tight coil of steel unwinding within him, a slow release of a lifetime of tension and control. More relaxed than he had ever been in his life. No longer keeping to the strictures of his parents' expectations. Peer group pressure was meaningless in the Black. The friends he had made were forged out of such extreme circumstances that ties had been made nothing could break. Not even death.

He couldn't help it. Simon watched mildly stunned as the boy tagged along after the Captain. It looked so odd yet natural that he could not take his eyes off them. The next time he caught Zoe alone he asked her about it. They were in the commons room, Zoe making tea while he hesitated about how to broach the subject. "Doesn't it worry you at all?"

Zoe poured the tea into her mug. When she looked up there was a faint hint of amusement in her dark eyes. The rest of her face gave nothing away. "Nope. It's what Wash would've wanted."

The doctor's mouth dropped open, surprise causing his train of thought to stall. Not quite able to wrap his head around what she was saying. "It is?"

This time Zoe smiled. "*Qu*. When I first suspected I was pregnant after losing Wash I went to Mal and asked him to be the baby's godfather."

"And Wash would've wanted that?"

"*Qu*. He mentioned it some time back before Miranda."

That gave Simon pause. Then Zoe took her tea and left to join River up on the bridge. Slowly Simon mulled over all the times he had seen the Captain and four year old Joshua together. The endless patience Mal took to explain things to the child. The way he was with him, like a father almost or a very dear friend. The Captain was good for the boy and Joshua was good for the man. Slowly Simon smiled and his heart found ease. He realised something that Zoe had known from the start. Wash was a very wise man.

* * * * *

It was odd. Right from the moment the boy had begun to talk he called the Captain Mal. It had amused and pleased Zoe. Kaylee had worried that the baby might think the Captain was his daddy but the child had no such notion and Zoe would often send Joshua off to sleep with stories about Wash. Now the Captain was sitting on the top of the metal staircase, Joshua sitting next to him, head tilted as he listened to Mal explaining about women. A rapt expression on his fair face, sandy curls framing an expression the epitomy of innocence.

"What you gotta remember, Josh, is there ain't a woman born don't think she's right an' that includes your momma. Not that I'm sayin' she's wrong, *dong ma*?"

Josh gave a secretive little smile and watched Mal juggle his words looking for the right ones to make his meaning plain without criticising Zoe. Not that he would ever do that anyway. Young Josh had been learning an awful lot about his Uncle Mal that would never have been discovered but for this fluke of destiny. The others had been easy to decipher but the Captain was pretty closed off in many respects and being a child gave Josh an advantage no one else on Serenity would ever have. A little smile flickered on the boy's lips. Who would have thought children would be Malcolm Reynolds achilles heel? It didn't hurt at all that young Joshua had a wise unseen mentor chipping in every now and then. Reminding the boy of the man he had been and the person he hoped he would become.

*What's his story?*

*Now,* The rich tone rumbled in mild admonishment. *You know I can't tell you that. All I will remind you about is the War with the Alliance. It wasn't only adults who died, Josh*

The boy's face paled with sorrow. Seeing his face begin to crumple, Mal stopped speaking, his eyes widening in alarm. He reached out and put a hand to Joshua's forehead. "Well you ain't burnin' up so maybe you ain't took sick."

Joshua blinked at him. "*Hen hao* Mal, don't fuss."

The Captain froze. For a moment there he had sounded like Wash. He squinted his eyes a little then forgot the thought, his concern returning at the sadness in the child's eyes. Wasn't right for an innocent to be burdened with sorrow so young. "*Shenme shi*, Josh? What the good gorram's robbed you of the happy?"

A small hand reached for the Captain's and man and boy just stared at each other for a moment then the spell was broken and Josh was demanding stories and wanting to know when Mal would teach him to fly.

"Well now, reckon that'll all come in good time, *yige erzi*. I'm thinkin' your momma might have somethin' to say about that."

The boy smiled. Seeing Mal through Zoe's eyes had taught him so much. Had given him the chance to join in the kind of friendship he had only been able to envy from the sidelines. The Captain was talking pretty much non stop when he was around Joshua, as if the child were milking every piece of knowledge out of him and absorbing every word. Kaylee thought it was sweet but Simon secretly wondered if the child had been born brain damaged. There was no other reason for the instinctive closeness that had developed between the Captain and the boy pretty much from the child's birth. But then maybe Joshua was just missing not having a daddy and with Mal being the Captain and titular head it was not such a stretch that the boy would fixate on him. It was just creepy.

Jayne Cobb liked the boy. Could see so much Wash in him but unlike the pilot didn't give the boy a hard time. When Wash had died Jayne felt a piece of himself ripped right out of him, like that gorram spike had impaled him as well. Realised with a shock how much he missed the little man. Even those gorram corny jokes and that annoying smile were leaving holes in him not nothing could fill. Then came Joshua. Alive and kicking with a knowing look about him that made Jayne all kinds of suspicious, as if the child knew more than the gorram lot of them except the moonbrain. But it was when the boy laughed or smiled or just tilted his head at the Captain that it hit him most how much the image of his father he really was. And oddly enough, the longer the boy was on the ship the more of them empty holes got filled until not even an angel of God could have seen the join. It made Jayne feel all manner of protective, not that he would ever admit to such.

Inara Serra watched the look of happy content on Zoe's face. She had never seen the woman this happy before. "Motherhood suits you."

"No," Said Zoe with a patient smile. "Having a little piece of Wash does."

As both women parted to pursue their own thoughts, neither realised just how true those words were. Shepherd Book watched over them as he did upon them all as if it was his bounden duty. The warm yellow glow that bathed him pulsing with a slow but deep content. For a long long time he was silent, moving without let or hindrance about the Firefly class transport and looking in on her precious crew. When he came to the bridge the diminutive glow illuminating Book's shadow beamed a little brighter. Book chuckled softly, watching the Captain sitting in the pilot's chair, young Joshua on his lap. Zoe stepping on to the bridge and pausing as man and boy turned to see who was interrupting their training session. The Captain actually began to redden a little, all flustered at being caught out. Zoe crossed her arms and waited.

"Ain't doin' nothin' but sittin', Zo. Boy wanted to see the stars."

"Uh huh, then how come you been doin' course corrections?"

Mal stuttered, eyes widening as he realised she must have felt the ship banking to turn right. Gorrammit he was humped.

"You were showin' Josh how to fly weren't you?"

He could have lied, changed the subject, done any of a dozen things but she would have seen through him in a heartbeat. Recognisiing that he had been caught but good Mal gave her a sheepish smile. "Not as if I have to show him a gorram thing, Zo. It's like he was born to fly."

A slow beautiful smile lit up Zoe's face, her son reflecting his own right back at her. Both of them so smug they could have been rutting book ends. "That's because he's his father's son."

The Captain didn't argue. When she was right she was right.

"Come on, Joshua. Simon's ready with your day's lessons."

"Oh momma, do I have to?"

Mal hid a smirk. Surprisingly enough Simon was a good teacher and had endless patience but he was strict and didn't let Josh get away with anything. Joshua had confided in the Captain that he might be learning all kinds of useful stuff but it was *boring*. Zoe dropped to a crouch and looked her son dead in the eye. Joshua tried hard not to squirm. "Now you listen to me young man, I may love you more than the breath in my body but that doesn't mean I'll let you grow up stupid."

The Captain was about to protest then thought better off it. Instead he concentrated on getting them back on course while he stretched his ears to hear what Zoe was going to say next. Being a godfather was serious stuff and he didn't want to mess up 'cause he hadn't been paying attention. That and he liked having the boy around. Joshua was the nearest he'd ever get to having a son.

Book looked all manner of happy then, as the scenes before him began to fade, he turned his light to shine more fully on his diminutive barely-formed companion. "Now," He said. "What in the 'verse am I goin' to do with you?"

The tiny little spirit glowed back at him and Book got an idea. As one door closed so another one opened and the one that had allowed Wash to return had given a different kind of opportunity to the new soul left behind. Book smiled and let his humour brush against the newly forming thoughts suspended in a happy glow next to him. He answered the query that had not yet formed into words.

"Oh, I have something very special in store for you."

As Shepherd Book returned to their particular plane of existence he felt a deep satisfaction suffuse his being. He very much liked the task he had been given and endlessly thanked God for the opportunity to serve once again. Just as Wash had wanted to stay close to his Zoe any way that he could, Book had chosen to watch over the crew. They were his friends after all and he missed them.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*qu* = yes (lit. go) *dong ma* = understand *hen hao* = very good *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *yige erzi* = son


Sunday, May 28, 2006 10:45 AM


Very interesting story line. Takes place 4-5 years after Miranda, hmm?

The Book and star wars blue ghostie thing is throwing me a bit, but I am enjoying this new series and am definitely looking forward to reading more. Especially, where the rest of the crew is concerned and what has happened to them in the last 4+ years.

Sunday, May 28, 2006 10:49 AM


Leiasky, the next part should throw a little more illumination on the subject. The first story "Survivors" was going to be a one shot but I got a few emails asking for more so this is my response, a series instead. Which just goes to prove the saying, "Be careful what you wish for, it may come true." Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, May 28, 2006 11:45 AM


Very nice. I still think that River would be able to sense Wash in Joshua, and it would be hi-Larious if she talked to both of them.

Sunday, May 28, 2006 1:32 PM


Ok. I got sucked in. Good writing. Great story idea. Am curios as to where this is going.
More please

Sunday, May 28, 2006 7:15 PM


Lovely stuff, Alison! Would be one way of allowing Wash to keep on hanging out on Serenity but still allow for character development concerning loss of a loved one;)


Sunday, May 28, 2006 11:24 PM


Another great story Ali, looking forward to reading more. What is going to happen to the little spirit that was replaced by Wash? Someone else going to have a baby? If so, will it look like Zoe/Wash??


Really like the ghostly influences, although I didn't think I would.

Thanks, as always, for sharing.

Friday, June 9, 2006 3:13 AM


And it just gets more adorable! Loved Mal blushing when Zoe caught him teaching Joshua to fly. Grinned at Simon boring the child. And laughed out loud at this:

"Kaylee thought it was sweet but Simon secretly wondered if the child had been born brain damaged. There was no other reason for the instinctive closeness that had developed between the Captain and the boy"

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 10:17 AM


I love how impending unemployment has left me so "whatever" about my job that I can spend my days out here finding little gems like this and not feel guilty about it. :)

I'm LOVING this so far, and can't wait to read more!

Saturday, November 5, 2011 5:36 PM


He realised something that Zoe had known from the start. Wash was a very wise man.

"No," Said Zoe with a patient smile. "Having a little piece of Wash does."


"That's because he's his father's son."
**sniff** :')

Just as Wash had wanted to stay close to his Zoe any way that he could, Book had chosen to watch over the crew. They were his friends after all and he missed them.
^^^^ beautifully heartbreaking!!!


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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.