What if ...
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

This is an AU story that won't let me go, so I'm sharing it with all of you! What if Command didn't pull out of Serenity Valley? What if the Independents fought on? What if the war is finally ending, ten years later? COMMUNICATION will be back up shortly, when I can get my muse out of my sick bed ...


Colonel Malcolm Reynolds stood at the entrance to his tent and stroked the scar on his cheek. Below him, spread out row upon row in the early morning light, was the camp of the Independents, the men beginning to wake up and start work, and the scent of cooking wafted towards him, and the smell made his stomach rumble. In the distance he could see movement among the Alliance soldiers, their camp smaller, but going about pretty much the same duties.

He’d been woken by the dawn, birdsong filling the air as he’d never remembered it here, and he’d been unable to get back to sleep, despite the woman at his side. Too many thoughts running through his brain, of the men he’d lost, and those he’d managed to keep going through the hell that this had become.

It was fitting, somehow, that the war finally ended here. Serenity Valley. The actual fighting had been over some five months, but the agreement, the armistice that would finally bring peace, was going to be signed here. Today. At the site of the war’s turning point.

Ten years ago they were on the edge, when things could go either way. Ten years ago he was a mere Sergeant, waiting for air support. And ten years ago Command finally pulled its finger out of its ass and rained fire on those arrogant cods of the Alliance.

He breathed deeply of the clean air. The war had turned then. Men saw there was a possibility of winning, and their numbers had swelled. Whole planets who’d been sitting on the fence had come down on the side of the Browncoats, and the revolution gained momentum. And when the Companion Guild Houses were razed to the ground by Federal troops, claiming they were harbouring Independent traitors, even some of the Core planets began to take notice. Then Ariel fell, and there was a feeling of inevitability about it.

Mal glanced back at the woman in his bed, her dark hair spread in waves across the pillow, her back to him, smooth and unsullied now by the marks of the flogging she’d once endured. She’d been on a transport, one of the few survivors from the House at Madrassa, and he’d taken to her. Offered her a place as his woman. She was proud, somewhat haughty despite the treatment she’d received at the hands of the Alliance, but she’d accepted. It was well known what was happening to the remaining Companions, and to have such a man to protect her, the hero of Serenity Valley, was more than she could honestly hope for.

He didn’t love her. Even in the throes of passion, when she made his skin sing, he didn’t love her. That he reserved for the one he’d lost that night on the ridge above Dhu Khang.

He’d never told her, and now would never get the chance. One of the other soldiers had told him what happened. How she’d been picked up by the medship Galen, and interrogated. He said her screams could be heard from one end of the ship to the other. Not that she talked. Even when they operated on her without anaesthetic, sewing up the wounds in her back, she’d never given them any information. He’d tried to help her, this soldier, covering the weeping cuts in her tattoo with torn sheets, but it was too much. She’d died in his arms, saying a name on her last breath. “Mal.”

They’d jettisoned her body with the rest of the trash.

“Sir.” Lieutenant Zoe Alleyne had stepped silently up to him, her dark hair cropped short, not wanting to interrupt his reverie.


“Thought you’d like some coffee, sir,” she said, holding out a mug.

He smiled. “Thanks.” He sipped the hot liquid. “Good stuff.”

“The supply lines are solid,” she murmured, standing next to him and looking out over the camp. “I had some sent to the Alliance command.”

He glanced at her in surprise. “Now that’s just cruel,” he said, his blue eyes twinkling.

“Reminds them not to get any ideas, sir.”

“Oh, they’ve lost. There ain’t no doubt about that. They don’t have enough support to light a fire, let alone make a ruckus. Thank God.” He absently fingered the silver cross at his neck.

“Hard to believe in a few short hours it will all be over,” Zoe said.

“Hard,” he agreed.

“What will you do, sir?”

He shrugged. “Ain’t much thought on it. My home’s gone, so nothing to go back to. Not that ranching would make me feel right anyhow.” He looked up into the blue sky. “Maybe I’ll get me a ship. I feel like not touching the earth for a while.” He glanced over at her. “You?”

They’d not had this conversation before, although both knew the other had wondered. But it had seemed to be tempting fate somehow.

“I think I’ll settle down. Find me a man.”

Mal was surprised. “Zoe Alleyne? An old married lady?”

“Not so old, sir.” Her dark eyes flashed. “And I want children. Before I get so’s I can’t.”

“Hell, Zoe, you only had to ask.” He laughed a little.

“Thank you, sir, for the offer. But I’m not joking. I want a husband. A family. Now more than ever.”

“Then I hope you get it. You deserve it, Zoe.”

He heard stirrings in his tent, and looked back over his shoulder. “Inara’s awake.”

“What will you do with her, sir?” Zoe asked.

“Not rightly sure,” Mal admitted. “Maybe set her up somewhere. Nice house …”

“She’s a whore.”

“She’s a Companion.”

“Only they don’t exist anymore, sir.”

Mal sighed. “Then maybe she’ll come with me into the black.” He shrugged. “Have to ask her.”

“She’ll say yes.”

“You think?”

“Sir, she’s been in love with you from the moment you saved her life.” Zoe’s eyes were sympathetic, almost pitying.

“Really?” His lips twitched. “I thought that was you.”

“Colonel, sometimes …”

He grinned, then his face saddened again. “Can’t love anyone, Zoe. Not no more.”

“She wouldn’t want you to do this,” Zoe said softly. “To be this empty.”

“Ain’t empty. Got a whole lot of happiness filling me up from the prospect of this damn war finally being over.”

“Of course.” The irony in her voice wasn’t lost on him.

“Gorramit, Zoe, stay outta my brain! I can’t help loving her. Always will. ‘Til the last breath leaves my body.”

“You couldn’t save her, sir.”


There was a long silence between them as the noise from the two camps grew, the sounds of soldiers preparing for the big day.

“Well, I’d best get back, sir. Make sure no-one’s going to do anything foolish.”

“War’s ending, Zoe. What kind of foolishness anyone want to be starting now?” He turned to go back inside, but a small figure slid around the side of the tent, a blade flashing in an upraised hand.

“Mal!” Zoe shouted.

Mal stepped back, the blade slicing down his forearm instead of into his chest. He clasped his hand to the wound, staggering a little, as Zoe drew her own knife, stepped cleanly up and cut the assailant’s throat. Blood arced from the severed arteries and the figure slipped to the ground.

“What … who …” Mal was trying to form a complete sentence as he watched his lieutenant kneel down and take the hood off the figure. Long dark hair spilled out.

“It’s a girl,” she said, unable to keep the surprise out of her voice. “An Alliance assassin.”

The young woman’s mouth was moving, but no sounds came out above the bubbling of blood. Then she lay still, her dark eyes on his face.

“I thought we’d got all of those,” Mal said, letting Inara bandage the cut on his arm with a hastily torn sheet.

“Seems not, sir.”

“Inara, it’s okay. That’s enough.” He looked into her eyes. “I’ll get the doc to deal with it.”

She nodded, not saying a word. She hadn’t, not since he’d found her, too traumatised by what she’d seen to be able to speak. Maybe that’s why he kept her. Not able to argue with him.

He stepped outside, away from the growing blood pool.

“Do you think it was meant for today, sir?” Zoe asked, following him.

“I ain’t high enough up for it to make any difference,” he said, a low ache beginning in his arm. “I figure she was probably let loose some time back, and only just now got close enough.” His hand hurt, and he squeezed and opened his fingers a few times. “After all, killing me ain’t gonna stop the -” He felt a wash of vertigo sweep through him.

“Sir? Sir!” Zoe was at his side, supporting him.

His legs gave, and even with her strong arms around him he sat down on the hard-packed earth. “Zoe …” he managed to say.

“Medic!” she shouted. “I need a medic! Now!”

Pain was radiating across his chest, making it hard to breathe. “Guess … guess she had a … a back-up plan,” he ground out.

“Hold on, sir. Just hold on.” She could see men hurrying towards them.

“Too late,” Mal said, smiling through the agony coursing through his veins from the poison on her blade. “Least I … I get to see her again … Frey … ” He spasmed in her grasp, his back contorting as blood forced from his lips, and he lay still.

Zoe held him as the doctor came, too late, holding her friend while they fussed about, holding him as his eyes stared sightlessly into the sky over Serenity Valley …



Tuesday, March 13, 2007 4:16 AM


Oooh, nice! Now; what happened to the others of the otherwise Serenity crew?

Vera <More!!>

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 7:28 AM


You are just too cruel for polite words, Jane0904! Cuz this was just brilliant in the most painful way possible!

Independents are victorious...Mal has Inara but can't love her because Freya died of her injuries from torture...Inara a battered and silent wreck from Alliance retribution...River never rescued, made an assassin and sacrificed for one last Alliance attack...hurts just to think these things:(

Still...I salute you and your brilliance, Jane0904! Even your crazy one-shots are just 10 kinds of shiny and complex:D


Tuesday, March 13, 2007 8:22 AM


Wow, this was painfully brilliant but you had to go and kill him, didn't you? Can't let the poor man have a happy ending. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 7:01 PM


That was cool! I'm not often a big fan of AUs - especially ones that discount the series AND the movie, but I liked this one a lot.

Of course, having Inara be silent just kills me ... I don't know if you could ever silence her completely.

This was just great!


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Now and Then - a Christmas story
“Then do you have a better suggestion? No, let me rephrase that. Do you have a more sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve us getting lost and freezing to death?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little standalone festive tale that kind of fits into where I am in the Maya timeline, but works outside too. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Epilogue
"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

Monied Individual - Part XX
Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

Monied Individual - Part XIX
“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVIII
Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

Snow at Christmas
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVII
Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XVI
He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XV
“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]