Keeping On: Part 7 - Signing Onto Serenity
Sunday, March 8, 2009

A year after the Miranda broadcast, Mal and Zoe struggle to keep their family together and keep flying as situations begin to build on Serenity. Signing On to Serenity: Lilah comes aboard Serenity and meets the crew.


Keeping On: Part 7 - Signing Onto Serenity

Disclaimer: Firefly, Serenity, and all related characters are copyright 2002-2005 Mutant Enemy, Inc., Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Fox. This is a work of fanfiction. No copyright infringement is intended.


The next day dawned sunny and bright on Persephone – something that convinced Monty that Lilah was meant to be on Serenity.

“It’s a good sign, is what it is.” He said cheerfully, over breakfast.

“If you say so, Monty.” Lilah said, trying not to be too irritated. She was not a morning person…not until she had at least two cups of coffee…or, at the very least, the stuff that passed for coffee out in the Black.

“It’s going to be a good day, Lilah, I can feel it. It’ll be a new beginning for you.”

A new beginning…yeah. The thing about new beginnings is that they always mean that something’s ended.

The rest of the crew had drifted off to their various jobs and duties, leaving Monty and Lilah alone in the mess.

“Monty, I have a question about my new crew mates.”

“Ask away. I’m no expert on them, but I know ‘em well enough, even that prissy doc of theirs.”

“Which one is the Reader?”

Monty looked very taken aback; he hadn’t been expecting that in the slightest.

“What makes ya think there’s a Reader on Serenity?” He asked uneasily.

“I heard the Captain and Zoe talking before they noticed us. She said that there was already a Reader on board and that it wasn’t her. Who is it?”

“She could have been joking, you know.” Monty said, trying to pass it off.

“But she wasn’t, was she?” Monty was silent. “There’s a Reader on Serenity. And since my mind is no place for people to go looking into, I’d appreciate knowing who it is.”

“Don’t really know if I should be tellin’ you somethin’ like that.” Monty said.

“Monty, please. I need to know who it was, since I doubt they’ll tell me upfront. I suspect that Mal would have him or her “read” me and that’s no way to begin a relationship, or whatever this is going to be. A person has the right to her own mind and its privacy, Monty.”

“It’s the girl you’re taking over for.” Monty said, looking uneasy.

“So it’s River, then.” Lilah said. She wondered about the girl who was pilot for the time being. Mal had spoken highly of her and he and Zoe both were obviously very concerned for her welfare if they were searching for a new pilot. Monty was extremely reluctant to say that it was her, and it made Lilah wonder if she had gone through some trauma before joining the crew of Serenity.

It was a curious notion; one did not get to be a pilot without vast skill or knowledge of flying. There were a few in the ‘Verse who had savant-like talent for the job, but very few. And truthfully, if one was damaged mentally, flying a large spacecraft was certainly not an ideal situation. On the other hand, their concern could be for a different reason altogether. She figured she would find out for sure sooner or later.

“It’s somethin’ they want kept quiet, Lilah.” Monty said warningly.

“I understand, Monty, and I’m not going to cause a fuss over it or start spreading the word about it, but I don’t much like the idea of someone else poking around in my head.”

“I can’t disagree with you, Lilah, but it don’t change the fact that I feel bad about sayin’ something.” He looked downcast.

“It wasn’t your fault. You can blame my wiles. It’s one of the universal excuses.” She smiled reassuringly at Monty. “Monty, I had to know. It ain’t right to send a person into that unknowing. And if anyone pitches a fit, blame me. God knows I can shoulder it.”

He looked a bit better and smiled. “Oh, that’s somethin’ you might wanna be careful about, Lilah. He don’t take too kindly to that sort of thing.”

“What? Shouldering blame?”

“No, talkin’ about God. Mal ain’t a religious man. He used to be, during the war and before, I’m guessing, but he ain’t now. I’m pretty sure he still believes that there’s a God, sure enough, but he don’t like him and he don’t think he’s out to do anyone any good.”

“Have I ever gotten all religious on you, Monty?”

“Can’t say ya have.”

“Just because I have faith doesn’t mean I’m going to go and push it onto others. That would just be a pain in the pi gu and there so many other things I’d rather be doing.”

“Don’t go thinkin’ that you can change him on it, Lilah.”

“I really wasn’t planning on it, Monty. It’s not my place to and I don’t have the inclination. Truth be told right now, I’m not very happy with God, myself.” Her voice had taken on a slightly bitter tone, one that she usually kept hidden. The only other time Monty had heard it was when she spoke about Paquin and he now figured that it had to do with her dead husband.

“Just keep your mind about ya and you’ll do fine. They’re fair people, Lilah, and they’ll do you good.”

“If I thought otherwise I wouldn’t be signing on with them.”

“Do you have your things packed and ready to go? We need to be leaving shortly if you’re to make it in time.”

Dang ran, Monty. It’s me. When am I ever not ready to leave?” She smiled.

She was going to miss Monty with a powerful ache. He had been a good friend to her, taking her in like he did and even finding her a job that she loved on a ship with old friends of his. Monty was a good man, and she owed him a great deal.

“Well, go and get them then, and meet me down in the main cargo bay. The others can clean this up. It’s Lesley’s turn on the rotation anyways.”

“Oh, Lesley. How I won’t miss that cowardly little hun dan.” She sighed sarcastically and Monty had to laugh.


“Yes, Sir, Mr. Monty, Sir.”

After bidding farewell to the crew (Lesley was noticeably absent), Monty and Lilah left for Serenity’s berth. Monty said he’d go with her for moral support, and then added that it was also to make sure that she didn’t turn tail and run. His comment started a bickering banter between them, all the way to their destination.


Mal had had everyone get up early. He was subtle about his wanting them up; he made breakfast, his one true talent in the kitchen. He did passably well with other meals, but breakfast – even protein breakfast – was his specialty and something that none of the crew wanted to miss.

As a result, everyone, even (hell, especially) Jayne was up bright and early. Breakfast was enjoyed and the crew didn’t pitch a fuss when Mal asked them to clean up the ship a bit.

“Even if Ms. Linn doesn’t show up, Serenity could use some cleaning. Ain’t right for our girl to be dirty, not after everything she’s done for us.”

They worked for an hour or two, sprucing up everything from the mess to the cargo bay. Simon was even roped into cleaning, on account that his infirmary was always immaculate.

“Sometimes, Captain, I rather get the feeling that you like the ship more than you like any of us.” Simon said, smiling as he helped Kaylee lift a crate off to the side so that Jayne could sweep where it had been standing.

“Eh, I like you all just fine most of the time, but I love my ship.” Mal answered with a smirk. “It was love at first sight, like when Romeo spotted Juliet for the first time at the Capulet’s party.”

Everyone stared at him.

“YES! I’ve read Shakespeare! I ain’t a complete Neanderthal! Now get back to work!”

“Shakes a spear? Who shook a spear at a capital party?” Jayne asked only to be ignored.

He opened up the bay doors and airlock, letting some fresh air – well, as fresh of air as was available at the Eavesdown Docks – into the ship. He looked up to see Inara, who looked completely out of her element while dusting the rails on the catwalk. The breeze swept through the ship and he was taken in by the sight of her standing up there, her long hair blowing gently.

She’s so lovely, he thought. Even said she’d help – and I know she ain’t used to cleaning like this.

“I see Monty!” Kaylee suddenly shouted. “And I think he’s got someone with him!” She moved back and forth from the bay to the doors, looking cheerful. Kaylee loved meeting new people.

“She dark-haired?” Mal inquired.

“Don’t know, can’t really see. I mean, Monty’s pretty easy to pick out in a crowd, but if she’s with him then she’s probably dwarfed.” Kaylee stepped back to help a struggling Simon with another crate.

“She probably would be. She ain’t that tall.” Mal said. Please let her be with him. Please let her have said yes. He thought.

Monty came into view a few moments later…and Lilah was with him. Kaylee gave a squeal and rushed Monty, hugging him fiercely.

And Lilah was staring up at the ship, her mouth slightly open.

“Well, Ms. Linn, what do you think of Serenity?” Mal asked, smiling widely.

Not taking her eyes off of the ship, she answered.

“She’s beautiful. Oh, ni zhen piao liang.”

“I hope you were sayin’ that to the ship and not me.” Mal said.

She finally took her eyes off of the ship, and looked at him.

“Oh, I wasn’t talking about you.” She looked past him to see the crew standing around, who were trying not to look to eager or too curious, except for Kaylee, who was still talking with Monty – something about power couplings. “I’m assuming this is your crew.”

“Yep, that they are. Why don’t you come on in and we’ll all get introduced proper, and then Zoe and I can show you the bridge? After that, you can get settled in.”


Mal looked over at Monty, who was standing with a very smug look on his face.

“You want to stay for a drink, Monty?” He asked. "We'd love to have you stay for a bit."

“Thanks, but I need to get going. We got a job lined up on Newhall and we need to get on that.” Monty said, jovially.

Lilah set her things down and broke away from Mal and walked over to Monty.

“Thank you, Monty – for everything.” She said, sincerely.

“You’re welcome, Lilah. Take care and try to be happy.” He said. “And don’t forget to send me a wave every now and then.”

“I will, I promise. Zhu fu ni, Monty.”

He smiled and called out a farewell to the crew, who returned the sentiment. After Monty departed, Mal walked over and closed up Serenity.

“Well, Ms. Linn, if you’ll follow me this way, I’ll give you the tour.” Mal said.

Lilah nodded and picked up her bags. She and the rest of the crew followed him. Mal walked on, giving various comments that she tried to take in as well as she could. She was anxious to get onto the bridge and start flying. The group finally stopped in a kitchen and dining area.

“This is the mess, meals are taken here. We have sit-down meals, mostly just breakfast and dinner, and lunch is come, grab, and go. We all take turns on the cooking rotation as well as the clean-up. Sometimes you’ll be busy up on the bridge and can’t make it to dinner. That happens, we’ll save food for you.” He clapped his hands. “So, introductions. You know me and you know Zoe.”

“I’m Kaylee Frye, and I’m the mechanic.” Kaylee piped up, right away. She had a bright smile and the most cheerful demeanor that Lilah had ever encountered. “This is here is Simon Tam,” she gestured towards the young man beside her, who was dressed in dark pants, a white shirt, and an obviously once-expensive vest that had seen better days. “He’s our Doctor. He’s Core-trained and everything.”

“It’s very nice to meet you, Ms. Linn.” He nodded towards her and she couldn’t help but smile; Monty had been right – he was a bit prissy.

“Lilah,” She corrected gently. “Call me Lilah.”

She looked at the big man flanking Kaylee’s other side, who gave her a long, leering sweep from top to bottom back to top. He finally met her face, giving her a distrustful look. He wore cargo pants and a t-shirt that read, incredulously, “fighting elves.”

“Jayne Cobb.” He seemed to grunt his words rather than speak them, she thought.

“And what do you do, Jayne?” She asked.

“Whatever I need to.” He answered, with a grin that was more than a little menacing. He didn’t trust her and wasn’t inclined to trust her…not until she proved herself, at least. Then, maybe, he’d give her a chance, he thought. “Or whatever you want me to.” The tone in his voice was implicit.

“Nice hands there Jayne. Big and strong. A man’s hands, good with a knife or a gun. I wonder how good they’d be if their fingers were broke? Or hell, if the hands themselves were broken? I mean, a hired gun who can’t even shoot…what would be the point of keeping him?” Lilah gave him an even look. She’d broken men’s hands before; she’d do it again.

Jayne snorted, muttered something very obscene in Chinese, and looked away.

“I’m Inara Serra.” Said a calming voice, and Lilah looked to find the source. It came from an extraordinarily beautiful woman, dressed in the finest clothing that she had ever seen. Lilah had never seen anyone quite like her and was astonished that she would even be with a crew that seemed as rag-tag as Mal Reynolds’ crew. “They call me their ambassador. I’m a registered Companion with the Guild.” She smiled graciously, though the smile did not quite meet her eyes, Lilah could see.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Lilah answered. She turned to the younger girl at her side.

“And you must be River.”

"You have a secret." River said, looking directly at Lilah.

Lilah smiled, warmth in her eyes.

"Most people do. Are you going to tell what it is?"

Looking surprised, River shook her head seriously.

"I don't like to look in the's not in the spirit of the holiday. I won’t tell."

Lilah smiled again.

"Unless the Captain asks you to?"

River turned her gaze Mal, who looked startled, and gave him a dirty look.

"No, I'll trust that you're honest, until you give me a reason not to." He said, reluctantly, looking more than a bit uncomfortable.

"Captain is truthful, but honesty must flow both ways." River said, seriously, looking again at Lilah. “You don’t know that it’s a secret, but it is."

"Oh, I'll be honest. I don't really have a reason not to be. I ain't done anything wrong or that I'm terribly ashamed of." She said, smiling around, meeting each of the crew’s direct gazes.

"Hey! I don't mind if my crew has secrets-" Mal was cut off by the rest of the crew snorting their disbelief, not even bothering to try and disguise it.

Oh, so that’s how it is.

Mal continued explaining about the ship and its on-goings, frowning inwardly. He couldn’t believe that Monty had given away River’s secret, or that Lilah seemed so composed about it, taking control of the situation immediately and putting a halt to any notion he might have had about telling River to read her. Hell, it made him feel guilty that he’d entertained the thought, and that wasn’t something that he cared for.

“Well then, Kaylee, take Lilah’s things to her room. Lilah, let’s get you up on the bridge, eh?”

Kaylee grinned and took Lilah’s bags from her rather firm grip. She walked off, Simon following her. Inara, Jayne, and River dispersed. Lilah nodded at Mal and he motioned for her to follow him and Zoe to the bridge.

Zoe began speaking about bridge shifts and such, trying her best to steel herself for the sight of a new pilot – a stranger – in Wash’s old spot. Zoe wasn’t sure why it should bother her so much. After all, it wasn’t Wash’s old chair – that had been destroyed by the Reavers. They’d replaced it, obviously, but River had rarely sat there. Lilah would sit there – she wouldn’t have a reason not to. Zoe supposed that she would just have to do what Saffron said that one time and ‘get over it.’

Upon coming up to the bridge, Lilah stopped to take it in. She’d never flown a Firefly before, but the bridge looked homey and inviting and Lilah couldn’t wait to take the ship into the air. All her reservations about her new job and her new crew seemed to be overpowered by the knowledge that she would be flying again.

Mal and Zoe watched her carefully, gauging her reaction. Her eyes were darting everywhere like a child in a toy store, before stopping on-

“Oh! Toy dinosaurs!” She said. “There was a pilot in my squadron during the war that used to keep toy dinosaurs in his cockpit. We never could figure out why. Another used to keep pictures of naked women in his – that we understood. Maybe keeping mascots where you fly really is a pilot thing. I wonder what mine would have been if I’d thought to have them?” She thought for a moment. “Maybe woozles.”

Mal and Zoe shared a look.

”Woozles?” Mal silently mouthed to Zoe, who shrugged, obviously not knowing what Lilah meant either.

“If you want to take them down-” Zoe started.

“No, keep them up. For good luck, I mean. They ain’t hurting a thing.” She turned to Mal expectantly. “So. Where are we off too?”

Mal and Zoe looked taken aback.

“Uh, there ain’t a rush; if ya want to settle in and unpack, you’re more than welcome to. We’d completely understand.” Mal said.

“I can do that later. Is there anything keeping us here on Persephone?”

“Not that I can tell.” Mal answered, truthfully.

“Then why wait? Do you have an idea of where we’re going?”

“The Sky Bazaar near the Silverhold colonies. It’s been a while since we checked for mail.” Mal said. “Think you can get us there?”

“Is the Alliance anything but a jung chi duh go-se dway? I can get us there.” She moved past Mal and Zoe and sat in the chair. She studied everything for a few minutes before she worked her fingers over the various screens and buttons and then called up the Persephone air control, requesting permission to take off. It was granted and Mal swiftly moved up to the intercom to tell the crew that they were taking off.

Kaylee came online to tell them that everything was square in the engine room, ready to go, and powering the ship up, flipping three switches, and taking the yoke, Lilah lifted Serenity into the air. Mal and Zoe noted the ease with which she did it as well as smoothness of their breaking atmo to sail into the Black.

“That ain’t a bad job, Ms. Linn.” Zoe said, impressed.

“Flying is what I do, Zoe.” Lilah answered, looking over her shoulder and smiling. “There ain’t a thing I love more.” She turned back to the screens and called up space charts and maps, starting to plot a course to their next destination.

“That’s good to know. Well, just familiarize yourself and play around a bit. Zoe and I will be doing…Captainy things. Give us a holler if you need something.”

“Will do,” Said Lilah, not looking back.

Mal and Zoe left the bridge, intent on finding a quiet spot to talk privately. There were a few things about their newest crew member that needed to be discussed.


I hope you enjoy! Questions, comments, and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated!



Sunday, March 8, 2009 4:36 PM


It's always interesting to view the crewmwmbers through fresh eyes as Lilah did. Lots of possibilities for this character and of course, finding out her secret. Looking forward to more.

Sunday, March 8, 2009 6:37 PM


Secrets are never good... I hope she fits in, but is it just me or did River seem wary?

Ha at the snorting and scoffing. Poor Mal.

Monday, March 9, 2009 3:01 AM


Good, good, good. It will be interesting to see how you have Lilah fit in with the crew.

Monday, March 9, 2009 3:02 AM


The question nobody seems to be asking - which would have been my first - just who in Lilah's squadron played with dinosaurs? This is the second hint that perhaps it was Wash ... when are we going to find out?

And I like Lilah, by the way. There are depths to her, and baggage. Should be interesting to get to know her.

Friday, March 20, 2009 11:26 AM


This series is great so far... thanks for writing - and sharing it.


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Innocence Lost
He thinks he can see a connection. Part two of <i>If's & Maybe's</i>, a series of unrelated pieces dedicated to exploring the characters of Mal and Inara and the relationship between them.

Promises: Bent, Not Broken
Next in the Keeping On 'Verse. Lilah has an emotional breakdown, and gets some insight from the one person she never thought would give it: Mal.

Still Flying - Part VII
Next in the Keeping On 'Verse.
Mal, Zoe, and company continue to adjust and keep flying, even as trouble appears to be brewing on the horizon. <i>Part VII</i>: Mal and Zoe discuss their previous job, Zoe and Lilah come to an understanding, and a handsome man of dubious character receives his birthday gift. Now Complete.

Still Flying - Part VI
Next in the Keeping On 'Verse.
Mal, Zoe, and company continue to adjust and keep flying, even as trouble appears to be brewing on the horizon. <i>Part VI</i>: Mal and Zoe complete the job, with interesting results, while a bored River finds a way to occupy herself.

Still Flying - Part V
Next in the Keeping On 'Verse.
Mal, Zoe, and company continue to adjust and keep flying, even as trouble appears to be brewing on the horizon. <i>Part V</i>: Things are reserved on <i>Serenity</i>, and Mal finds out that his flush new deal is a great deal more trouble than he originally thought.

Still Flying - Part IV
Next in the Keeping On 'Verse.
Mal, Zoe, and company continue to adjust and keep flying, even as trouble appears to be brewing on the horizon. <i>Part IV</i>: Mal, Zoe, Jayne, Lilah, and Monty pay a quiet little visit to an Alliance-friendly bar on Unification Day.

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Mal, Zoe, and company continue to adjust and keep flying, even as trouble appears to be brewing on the horizon. <i>Part III</i>: The deal with Badger is made, but with a catch. Meanwhile, a spat breaks out between Simon and Kaylee. Reviews would be lovely.

Still Flying - Part II
Next in the Keeping On 'Verse.
Mal, Zoe, and company continue to adjust and keep flying, even as trouble appears to be brewing on the horizon. <i>Part II</i>: The crew makes the drop, a bar fight is had, and things get a little too intense while flying to Persephone.

Still Flying - Part I
Next in the Keeping On 'Verse.
Mal, Zoe, and company continue to adjust and keep flying, even as trouble appears to be brewing on the horizon. <i>Part I</i>: Mal, Zoe, and River meet with their new contact and Lilah learns how Wash died. Reviews would be lovely.

The Serenity Book Club
Simon and Lilah discuss a book they've both recently read. This is just a silly little piece set after <i>Keeping On</i> but before its sequel.