FAITH SERIES: 8. "Half Heartache"
Friday, June 23, 2006

"Inara does not understand the underlying tension between her and the Captain until it is spelt out for her. As Kaylee gets nearer and nearer to her baby's birth she is hit by a strong bout of home sickness."



SUMMARY: "Inara does not understand the underlying tension between her and the Captain until it is spelt out for her. As Kaylee gets nearer and nearer to her baby's birth she is hit by a strong bout of home sickness." 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 had surprised and moved Zoe when the Captain gave Simon his mama's wedding ring. Brought the tears to her eyes just knowing how much that gesture meant, how much it cost him. It was the last thing Mal had of her. At War's End, once the gorram purplebellies released them from the internment camp, the first thing Mal had done was head back to Shadow. Naturally, Zoe went with him. Didn't matter that the the Alliance had exiled them from returning.

When they reached Shadow they found out why. When Mal and Zoe had left to follow the Browncoat cause they had left behind a beautiful green and fertile land, rich and vibrant with life. They returned to find the land poisoned and everything turned to ash including the Reynolds' ranch house. There was something unique and distinctive about human remains. Even ones turned prematurely to ash.

Zoe had watched in stunned horror then helped Mal gather the pitiful remains. It broke her heart to watch him dig the graves with a piece of charred fencing panel, carefully throwing a few handfuls of ash into each makeshift grave before covering them in soil. Not a word was spoken nor needed to be. The intrusion of words would have been one affront too many. Didn't matter a good gorram which ashes were which but as Mal had gathered the greasy residue his fingers touched something small and solid within it. Something that did not yield. Trembling, he had frozen a moment before carefully sifting through the ash expecting to meet a piece of charred bone, a numb shock running through him at what he found. Through the burning of his blurred vision he knew not that he was crying, too stunned with grief to take in anything but the tiny object lying in the palm of his hand.

Wordlessly Zoe peered over his shoulder to see what it was, her breath catching when she saw the ring. She watched in silence as Mal gently brushed off the ash and dirt, rubbing the ring carefully upon his shirt front as if afraid it would crumble away at his touch. The distinctive laurel leaves overlapping in a ring of gold. Mal raised his hand to his lips and kissed the ring. Zoe blinked, her mind flashing back to the many times she had seen that same act of reverence towards the silver cross he had carried into battle. Only, unlike that cross this ring had never failed him. And unlike that cross, the ring would never be discarded. It was nothing much, just a piece of metal, a little lump of precious fashioned into a band of gold. It was the last thing Mal had left of his mama and Zoe knew, if she were watching down from wherever it was the dead go when the Alliance were through murdering them, she would forgive her son his tears.

Only Zoe couldn't forgive. If anything her heart hardened. Mal's family had been right good to her, had taken her in when her father died. No excess of words, no fuss. They took her in and made her their own, a welcome addition to a house full of love. Family. Home. What hurt Mal, hurt her. Zoe's resolve solidified into something so strong it could not be broken less she was the one breaking it. Vowing that not ever again would she let anything hurt Malcolm Reynolds. He wasn't just her dearest and oldest friend, he was family and all she had left.

It was hours later that she found him in the Here and Now, up on the bridge in the pilot's chair cradling a mug of tea. Zoe would bet anything that it was stone cold. The Captain didn't turn his head. Knew instantly who it was. She didn't speak, just stepped quietly alongside him and placed a hand upon his shoulder. It said everything. *I'm here, sir*, *I ain't ever leavin' you*, *I've got your back*. It was comfort, solidarity. Understanding. In some odd way Mal felt the presence of both Zoe and Wash when she touched him, they kept him rooted in the living here on Serenity. Helped bring him back from the memories that haunted and pained him. Not the War but the shocking aftermath. Not the thousands upon thousands of deaths of those lost in battle but of the ones killed in the peace that followed. The bloody and bitter aftermath when the dispiteous victors didn't just inherit the spoils but also desecrated them. Yet at the heart of all hatred, however justified, lay nothing but emptiness and pain. The warm hand on his shoulder was the lifeline leading him out of that darkness. Away from the cold horrors of unnecessary cruelty to the realm of the living. Just a bit of metal nothing more but the ship was precious to him because it carried everything left that mattered. These people were more than just crew, they were family. And to Malcolm Reynolds, nothing else in the 'verse meant a damn.

* * * * *

Simon was amazed, couldn't get his fill of looking at her, touching her, revelling in the fact that this beautiful amazing woman was now his wife. Kaylee pulled him down for a kiss, already impatient and naked, her gifted fingers quick to strip him out of his clothes before he realised it. He opened his mouth to protest but soon he was too busy to utter more than a moan, his body firing up at those busy but knowing hands. Kaylee's fingers knowing just where and how to touch him, his body straining to keep a semblance of control as everything he ever thought he knew about sex flew out of his gorram head.

When he woke minutes later, Simon was not quite sure where he was. His hips jerked involuntarily, a wet touch rousing him with a groan to lift his head and look down at the dark waterfall of hair splayed out across his abdomen. Kaylee tilted her head so she could look up and savour the shocked look on his face, her tongue and mouth working their wet heat over him and making him twitch and jerk. Still sensitive from their earlier love making, "Kaylee, *bao bei*, I think you wore me out."

Her smile was wicked, mischievous. "Bet I can do somethin' about that, *zhangfu*."

Simon felt a thrill go through him. *Zhangfu*. Husband. They really were man and wife. "I don't think I can..."

His groan deepened as impossibly he felt himself begin to hard again in that busy, gifted mouth.

"*Wode ma*, Kaylee, how did you...?"

She did not answer him in words. Simon groaned and carded his hands through her hair, his fingers jerking in little aborted movements as Kaylee slid a slick finger behind his testicles. His eyes widened. "Kaylee, you can't!" She did. And for the second time in recent memory the world exploded behind Simon's eyelids, the finger probing unerringly until it hit and stroked his prostate. Simon cried out and jerked his hips. Kaylee hushed him, her warm tongue licking as she sucked him gently, not wanting him to come just yet. Besides he was only semi hard in her mouth and she wanted him able to drill through metal before she was finished with him. Not that Simon could have asked for anything any way. His body was humming with sensation. Every touch running along raw nerve endings that played his body in an endless loop that was so gorram erotic and addictive he didn't want it to end and yet he wasn't sure how much more he could endure before the ecstasy alone killed him. The pleasure so great it was painful.

Simon wasn't sure whether he was blacking in and out of consciousness but if he was dying he couldn't think of a better way to go. Belatedly he wondered where Kaylee had got the lube, then gave a yelp and almost came as a second finger joined the first, widening that tight ring of muscle to allow a third finger entry. He wanted to speak but couldn't, so full and on edge with feelings robbing him of articulation that he could only hang on. Part of his mind feeling the rest of her hand carefully and oh so expertly slip and slid right inside him until the palm of her hand began to massage that magic gland and his vision whited out with the intensity of it. He groaned, he moaned, passion leaking from every pore as Kaylee sucked gently on him, the movement of her hand inside him sending bolts of feeling through him like electric shocks. With each shudder a little more jism leaked into Kaylee's mouth, the ejaculate absorbed as she milked him until taking pity on him she stroked across the small almond gland that sent him soaring into oblivion. One hoarse cry as he spilled into her mouth, the fingers working to coax every last drop out of him.

Exhausted, Simon was unaware as Kaylee gently retrieved her hand and scooted up to lie beside him, a happy smug look on her face as she wiped the dark wet hair from his face. He did not open his eyes. That much effort would surely kill him. Amused, Kaylee rained little kisses over his forehead and cheek then shifted back a couple of inches to look at him. "Hmm, think I might have married me an old man."

"I'm not old," Murmured Simon without opening his eyes. "I'm dead. You killed me."

Kaylee smiled and ran a hand lightly over his chest, liking how her hand glided over his sweat soaked body. Was almost frictionless. Her smile became a dirty little smirk of satisfaction. There was nothing like a well oiled machine and her daddy did say she had natural talent.

* * * * *

Morning came as black as night, the universal constant of deep space just another tick of the biological clock externalised as measurements of time. Duration of consciousness. The passage of events in the linear concept of human understanding. But was time constant? Was it linear? Did it exist beyond the human need to create order out of chaos, direction out of uncharted space, a mundane meaning that could be applied to the constant stream of events that typified life. Or were they only dreaming? Caught between the cusp of nightmares thrown out on the backcloth of space to light their mental ramblings with pinpricks like stars. What mattered Zoe decided was not what was but what meaning they ascribed to it. Without meaning all speculation was redundant.

Speculation. Redundancy. Zoe had been in a long thoughtful mood since they had all retired for bed. Some to sleep, some to... not. At least she did not expect the newlyweds to surface any time soon. Zoe got up to wash her mug, pausing as Inara walked into the commons room. No one else appeared to be up and about but Zoe knew that was a misperception. The Captain was up on the bridge and she had heard Jayne stirring in his bunk as she passed. What River was doing even God probably didn't know and right now Zoe didn't care. Her focus was on the Companion though she waited until Inara reached for the little drawer where she kept her scented tea.

"You had to do it, didn't you?"

Inara lifted out a sachet and closed the drawer, staring at Zoe in non comprehension. "*Shenme*? Do what?"

Zoe's lips, usually so full and lush were pressed into a hard line. "Hurt him."

Now the Companion was totally baffled, not knowing what Zoe meant and too wary now to speculate. Zoe turned to the sink and began washing her mug, over and over again as if it took all of her concentration. She spoke without looking up from her chore or turning around. "He kept it, carried it everywhere with him after the War. Did you know that?"

Some instinct told Inara that whatever they were talking about had to be important. The tension coming off Zoe was in waves so high she could have gone surfing. She blinked and found herself caught in a hard pained stare that pinned her to that silence. Zoe looked at her as she put the mug upside down on the drainer, everything about her deliberate. Inara felt that if she moved wrong or spoke out of turn the woman would blow up in her face. The result she was sure would not be pretty.

"It could have been yours."

Inara really did have no clue what Zoe was talking about but seeing the first mate start to walk out of the commons room Inara could not leave it there. "What could have been mine?"

Zoe paused and looked back at her. Pain and pity glossing over an anger too deep to touch. "The ring."

For a moment neither spoke, the air between them seemed stunned. Electified, if Inara was any judge though right now the only thing she was sure of was her own name.

"He was carrying it for you." Zoe said softly.

Then Zoe was gone and Inara was left staring at the empty doorway replaying the strange conversation over and over in her head until the meaning sank it. Reaching out for a chair Inara steadied herself then slowly sank down on it. Did Zoe mean what she thought she meant? Had Mal been carrying his mother's wedding ring for her? It seemed ludicrous, impossible, but if it was true... Her thoughts trailed off down a path she did not want them to follow. It couldn't be true, it couldn't. But Inara Serra was a Companion, used to manipulating people and events with all the ease of a Grand Master. She knew better than anyone when she was lying to herself.

* * * * *

It was warm and dark. Safe. The reassuring thrum and rythym an hypnotic antidote to any stress that might have penetrated. A warm glow awoke the sluggish mind, dreams of comfort and content interrupted by something hovering on the brink of awareness like the hand of God.

*Soon* A deep rich voice murmured.

*Why not now? I am ready*

*Yes, but they are not*

Silence in the embryonic fluid lapping against their minds. *How long?*

The murmur was lighter now, the tone almost indulgent. Was it affection or affectation? *Within the hour*

The small soul hovering in the warm confined space marvelled that they could all fit. Shepherd Book's humour was like a dark rich wine, fulfilling and satisfying.

*Different bodies, little one, like sugar and water*


*Until you have a body you have no mass. At least on this plane of existence but even here there are different ratios of mass. You can fill a glass with water until it almost overflows, think that it cannot take anything else. The glass after all is full. Then you take sugar, carefully add a spoonful at a time. How is that possible you ask if the glass is full?*

*Different bodies?*

*Dui. Now you are ready to take your first step into a larger room*

The small soul knew instantly he was talking metaphorically.

* * * * *

Jayne was walking briskly passed Kaylee and Simon's room when he heard the cry. Breaking into a run he hurried to their door and flung it open then wished he hadn't. Eyes wide he backed out of the room. *Wode ma*!"

Simon didn't look up, too busy kneeling between his wife's bent legs, trying to get her in a comfortable position on the bed. "Her waters have broken Jayne, get Zoe and if you see River tell her to bring my bag, *mashang*!" "I ain't your gorram slave."

"If you don't move you'll be the midwife!"

Horror crowded the irritation out of Jayne's face. "Gorramit, I'm goin' just don't, don't do anythin' 'til I get back."

If things weren't happening so fast Simon would have laughed. Another moan from Kaylee and everything else was ejected from his mind.

Running as if Reavers were after him, Jayne ran headlong into Zoe. Relief eased the worry on his face. "It's Kaylee, doc says her waters broke."

"*Tian Yesu*, I'm on it. Go tell the Cap'n, I'll double back to the infirmary and pick up some supplies."

Before Jayne could grumble about not being no rutting messenger Zoe was gone. Jayne changed direction again and headed for the bridge, startling the Captain who had been dozing off in the pilot's chair. As he went to open his mouth River unfolded herself from the other chair, startling the big man. In his haste Jayne hadn't seen her. "It's time."

The Captain sat up and stared at Jayne.

"The baby, it's a'comin' Mal an'..." Jayne broke off, his face twisting just this side of ugly because of the thoughts behind it. "*Shenme* Jayne, what's up?"

"It's messy Mal, that's what it is."

"Water's broke," Said River wisely. "Sometimes the baby is so impatient the mother doesn't have a chance to prepare."

Jayne looked blank as the Captain sprang to his feet and pushed passed him. "Prepare for what?"

"Water isn't the only thing that runs out of the body when the muscles go slack."

Jayne's eyes widened, his imagination painting the kind of picture he could almost inhale. With a happy laugh River dashed after the Captain, knowing her brother would need her. It was always fun to mess with Jayne, the man never knew when she was teasing him and River had no intention of enlightening him any time soon.

* * * * *

It didn't so much hurt as squash everything up in a way that pressurised the incoming soul as nothing before had ever done. She couldn't hear the warm melodic tone of Book's thoughts, could vaguely sense her mother's pain as the contractions came so close they were hard to count. Each one seemed stronger than the one before. Breath that wasn't hers puffed into newly formed lungs. Tiny fingers and toes flexed as the spirit flowed and filled the little body that was now its' home. Another contraction, something invading the space around the baby, drawing and guiding it out of the womb. Gentle sure fingers making sure the umbical chord did not wrap around the baby's throat.

Zoe grabbed what she could and wrapped everything in a couple of white towels, her eyes flying everywhere around the room trying to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything. In her haste she had not explained anything to Joshua. The little boy followed in his pajamas, the sleep vanishing from his eyes and body as realisation hit him hard. The baby was coming! The one that should have come to Zoe was now being born to Kaylee. How wonderful and beautifully bizarre was that? Zoe did not notice her son running along behind her, the bedlam getting louder and more chaotic the nearer they got to the scene of the crime. Zoe stepped in to a surreal world, amused to see the Captain stuck between panic and wanting to help. She handed him the bundle and nodded to Simon. Mal handed it to the doctor. River wriggled round close to her brother and smiled.

"No more inducement."

Simon's hands were now back inside Kaylee, gently turning the baby so the birth would be without complication. Mal didn't want to look but couldn't look away. Anxious as *diyu* for everything to go without a hitch and for his little *mei mei* not to suffer. Made him all kinds of nervous that there was not a gorram thing he could do but worry. Simon noticed that the room was crammed full of people and made a quick calculation just as Inara came through the door. "River, Zoe, you stay. Everyone else who isn't having a baby needs to leave. Now!"

"You can't order me around on my own boat." Protested the Captain.

"I can in medical matters and if you think this isn't one you need your head examining. But seriously Captain, there are too many people in here and I need room to work, *dong ma*?"

Mal nodded then urged everyone out except Zoe and River. As the Captain paused in the doorway Simon shouted out to him. "Looks like the baby is coming fast, Captain. We're going to need plenty of hot water and good strong mugs of tea all round would be welcome."

"You got it, just don't let nothin' go wrong."

Zoe hid a smile then got to work helping. River looked at Kaylee's flushed and sweating face and beamed at her. "You'll be a moma soon. Baby girl can't wait to meet you."

In between pants and pushing Kaylee beamed. "Baby's a girl?"

"*Qu*," Said River happily. "Name's Charlotte Anne but you'll call her Charlie."

Zoe almost dropped the towel she was holding ready to wrap around the baby. That had been the name she and Wash had settled on if their firstborn was a girl. Biting back the threat of tears Zoe turned her full attention back to Simon. Joshua managed to wriggle in close before she even realised her son was there. "What are you doin', Joshua? You're supposed to be in your room, *bao bei*."

The boy shook his head. "Can't, baby wants to see me."

Through her shock Zoe was aware Simon and River were smiling at each other with one of those sibling like telepathic looks that sometimes drove her *shenjingbing*. "The baby will see everyone soon, *fengmi*."

"I'm impatient too, mama."

That brought a lovely little smile to Zoe's face. Before she could savour it there was a cry of warning then the baby all but shot out as if catapulted. Zoe caught the slippery child in the towel and let Simon carefully take the baby from her. Odd, but those wrinkled red eyelids opened on steady knowing eyes. Eyes so full of laughter they could only belong to a child of Kaylee's. Simon held his breath in awe. The baby looked at him and he looked at the baby. Kaylee was laying back, enjoying the freedom to relax a moment and catch her breath then she raised her head, arms stretched out waiting for a little wriggling form to fill it. With a grin, Simon gently kissed the baby's head and handed her over to his wife. The umbical chord was still attached but Simon wanted to sterilise his equipment properly before he cut it.

"Hey, little one." Kaylee cooed. "Who are you?"

"Charlotte Anne Tam." Said River.

Kaylee looked from her new baby daughter to her best friend. "River, it ain't polite to go namin' other folks' babies without their permission."

River shook her head. "I'm not, baby told me." That made Kaylee stare, her look settling on the bundle of joy now vying for her mother's attention. Joshua reached out a hand and tugged on the end of the towel. Kaylee looked to see who it was and grinned at the boy. "Wanna see the baby, Josh?"

Joshua nodded. Zoe picked him up and carefully settled him right next to Kaylee and the baby. The baby was gurgling at her mother then turned her head and caught sight of Joshua. It was weird but years later Kaylee would come back to that moment and swear that the two kids recognised each other. How gorram creepifying was that?

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*zhangfu* = husband *wode ma* = mother of God *shenme* = what *dui* = correct *mashang* = quickly/at once/immediately/right away *tian Yesu* = sweet Jesus *diyu* = hell *mei mei* = little sister *dong ma* = understand? *qu* = yes (lit. go) *bao bei* = precious/treasure *shenjingbing* = crazy *fengmi* = honey


Sunday, June 25, 2006 6:52 AM


I LOVE Zoe confronting Inara about the ring Mal gave to Simon and Kaylee. Yep, I really feel sorry for Mal here. Poor guy.

The Simon and Kaylee scene...whoa...I'm not normally a fan of that specific act but you described it nicely without it being overly graphic. Well done.

Jayne's discomfort at the whole delivery process was hysterical. Not wanting to be a midwife, River telling him about fluids...Bwahahaha

Sunday, June 25, 2006 2:48 PM


Jayne is such a baby!
"*Shenme* Jayne, what's up?"

"It's messy Mal, that's what it is."

LOL I loved those lines!

And the Simon and Kaylee, well...oh my! Loved it! What a great chapter, can't wait for your next post!

Tuesday, July 4, 2006 6:55 PM


Holy...shit! Now this was an action-packed chapter, Alison!

Can only say the following:

1) Silee honeymoon = massive GUH! Especially the prostate massage...cuz that's just "whoa!" and such;)

2) Zoe confronting Inara....short but oh so full of meaning! Man, I bet Inara feels like like a major pile of fei hua/go se right now;)

3) Joshua's reaction to a question here. If Zoe starts even half-way believing about transmigration of souls, how is she gonna deal with the concept of Simon & Kaylee raising what should have been her kid? Cuz presumably, Charlie will not have the same kind of intermixing of personality like Josh does...

Still...A-1 stuff here:P


Thursday, July 27, 2006 7:12 AM


Finally someone gives Inara 'what for'. That woman has always irritated me something fierce.


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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.