Keeping On: Part 11 - Revelations
Monday, April 6, 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. Revelations: Mal and Zoe confront Lilah about the captures and someone's secret past comes out into the open.


Keeping On: Part 11 - Revelations

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.


Nine years ago…

“Look, it’s nothing personal, Prince.” A man with reddish-blond hair was saying.

“Yes, it is! It’s very personal, gorramit!” Prince protested heavily.

“Oh, come on, Princey-boy!” A woman with cropped red hair laughed. “He’s just having one over you!”

“It’s not funny, Hammer!” The man called Prince protested again.

“Yes, it is!” Another man insisted, smoothly putting his arm around Hammer’s shoulder before she smacked him away. “It’s hilarious!”

“Aries, back me up on this!” Prince beseeched the dark-haired woman who was smiling widely.

“I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to go with Leaf on this one, Bao bei.” She said, holding back her laughter for his sake.

“Hussy.” Prince muttered.

“It’s agreed then!” Leaf said cheerfully. “Face it, Prince, there are good pilots, and then, well…there’s you.” He clapped Prince on the back and looked at the rest of the group.

“So, we have our orders yet? I mean, it’s been two days since we graduated. Surely they have something for us to do.”

“Barclay’s supposed to address us tomorrow at the 0800 assembly.”

“How the hell did you find that out, Hopper?” Hammer asked, narrowing her eyes suspiciously.

“Oh, I was eavesdropping.” Hopper said, unashamed. “It’s a character flaw of mine, one that I like tremendously.”

“Shiny.” Leaf said. “This is going to be great.”

“You seem awfully sure about that, Leaf.” Aries commented.

“It’s us, Aries.” Leaf said. “Nothing’s going to be able to break us.”

“Let’s not get too cocky, dong ma?” Prince asked.

“That’s right.” Hopper agreed. “We have to make it through this so you and Aries can get married and have lots of sex and babies. Preferably in a place where I’m not sleeping in the bunk next to you.”

“We’re not having sex!” Aries exclaimed.

“Not yet, you’re not. Just give it time. Pretty soon you’re going to be riding him like a-” Hopper was promptly cut off by a very sharp – and loud – slap from Hammer.

Aries and Prince were both blushing furiously, not meeting anyone’s eyes. Finally Leaf took pity on them and called for their check.

“We’d better head back to base. We have a long, hard, three-minute-or-less lecture from Barclay to look forward to tomorrow.” He said. “And also, I need to introduce Steve here to his new friends.” He held up a blue and orange toy dinosaur that had been sitting by his drink since they’d arrived at the bar.

“Yeah.” Hopper said, rolling his eyes at Leaf. Shaking his head, he raised his glass. “To the Independents!”

“The Independents!” The others echoed.


“Zoe?” Mal asked, looking up from the capture of five young people sitting around a table in a bar.

“It ain’t true.” Zoe said. “Wash didn’t know her; she didn’t know him, and Wash sure as hell didn’t fight in the War!” Her voice had started out very quiet, and had nearly risen to a yell by the time she finished.

“Seems we have some questions to ask our resident pilot, I’m thinking.” Mal said.

“I didn’t want to get her into trouble, Captain.” Kaylee said.

“You were right to tell us, Kaylee. Can’t be havin’ crew members what lie to us.” Mal said tightly.

“She’s a liar. She’s a dirty hun dan da hua jing.” Zoe said, off in her own world.

“What if she did know Wash?” Simon asked. “It doesn’t make her guilty of whatever it is you think she’s guilty of. It doesn’t make her this horrible person you’re so bent on punishing.”

“She knew he was the pilot here before her and she never said a word about knowing him. That’s as good as lyin’ and I ain’t havin’ it on my boat.” Mal bit out.

“Then can we at least do this in a marginally civilized manner?” Simon asked, almost in vain.

“Sure. We’ll let her speak her peace before we kick her off.” Mal said, smiling that wild smile that only showed up once in a great while.


The group turned to see an angry Inara moving towards them, looking for all the ‘Verse like a graceful lioness on the prowl.

“What is going on, Mal? I hear the proximity alarm go off and then you come and tell me to stay in my shuttle until you gave the all-clear and then the lights go off for a few seconds and I hear shooting. I was in the middle of very important wave to Sihnon and it shorted out. And then you never gave me the all-clear! What in Buddha’s name happened?”

They all looked at her sheepishly.

“Pirates, Inara. There were pirates and we took care of them. We didn’t want to risk you getting hurt.”

She looked a bit touched, if a little bit irritated. “Where are River, Jayne and Lilah?”

“River’s cleaning the cargo bay after out little battle and Jayne and Lilah are over scouring the ship for supplies.”

“And what is this little meeting about?” Inara asked, curious.

“Apparently Lilah knew Wash and didn’t say anything so the Captain is going to be very reasonable and put her off ship.” Simon answered, giving Mal a look of great dislike.

“What? How could she have known Wash and not said anything?” Inara questioned.

“Look at the captures. They prove it.”

“You really think they knew each other?” Zoe asked quietly.

“Captures don’t lie, Zoe.” Mal answered. “Captures can’t be faked, that’s why they’re so popular.”

Inara looked at the album for a few minutes, and finally looked up at Mal.

“I told you I had a bad feeling about her, Mal.” She said quietly.

“You did, Inara. And I should have listened to you, I’m thinking.” Mal acknowledged.


Down in the cargo bay River tensed up as she felt, rather than heard the conversation upstairs.

“She didn’t know that it was a secret…but it was.” River whispered quietly.


“Think the others are about done?” Lilah asked, holding open a large bag so that Jayne could dump what looked like a month or three’s-worth supply of protein packets into it.

“’Spect so. Don’t take that long to dump bodies into space.” Jayne said. He opened up the refrigerator. “Hey! Bottled water!” He grabbed the large case of bottles and set it on the counter. “Think we’re gonna need two trips. Ruttin’ pirates liked their comforts, I guess.”

“Well, so far we’ve found fresh meat and produce, protein that’s not from a bargain bin, and bottled water. I’d say they did at that.” Lilah said, taking in the large box that they had found and filled with food.

“Go on and check their infirmary and whatever ain’t outdated, keep.” Jayne said, handing her another large bag.

“Right.” Lilah left, whistling.

Jayne smirked as he hefted up the large box filled with food and grabbed the bag filled with protein that Lilah had left. He navigated his way through the ship back to where the airlocks were joined.

To his surprise, Zoe met him back on Serenity.

“I’ll help Lilah finish up. Start putting that stuff away.” Zoe said, and Jayne did his best not to inch away; something had stirred Zoe up into a rage and he didn’t want to be in her path.

“She’s in the infirmary, seeing if there’s anything useful.” Jayne said, hurrying away.

Zoe entered the ship as Jayne made his way to the mess. She looked around and began searching for Lilah. Anger and disbelief was coursing through every inch of her it seemed, and while a part of Zoe was telling her that it wasn’t righteous anger, a larger part of her was furious that somehow, some way, her memory of Wash had been thrown out of balance and she seethed with the knowledge.

“Find anything useful?” Zoe asked, coming up on the infirmary where Lilah was checking various vials of medicine and packets of supplies for expiration dates. The sack she had was quite full, and Zoe couldn’t help but think that Simon would be grateful for the extra inventory.

“Quite a lot. Those pirates knew what they were doing; they were in it for the long haul. You should see what Jayne and I found earlier.” Lilah said, good-naturedly, finishing up.

“Anything I can do?”

“No,” Lilah said. “I think this just about covers it, truthfully.”

She and Zoe started back towards Serenity. Once the two were back on board, Zoe took a hold of the bag from Lilah and asked her to close up. Lilah turned to seal the airlock and the great door and when she turned back, Zoe decked her, hard. Her world went back and she slumped to the floor.


“Ya decked her pretty damn hard there, Zoe.”

“This is lunacy. I’d like to say that I can’t believe you all are set on this, but then I’d be lying.”

“Woman shouldn’ta a lied to us, Doc. Who knows what else she was keepin’ secret?”

“She didn’t seem bad. I mean, she came and saw me in the infirmary and she barely knows me!”

“I thought she was gonna be okay with us.”

“Didn’t know it was a secret. Should have told.”

“I had a bad feeling about her, Mal. I told you before.”

“She’d better wake up and in a hurry. She’s got questions to answer.”

The voices swirled around Lilah as she regained consciousness. She became aware of three things: one, she was tied up; two, her head hurt worse than it had in several years; and three, for some gorram reason, the crew had gone crazy.

“She’s waking up.” She thought she heard Kaylee’s voice.

“I really wish you’d let me treat her, Mal. There was no need to hit her so hard.” Oh, that was Simon. Thank you, Simon.

“Felt pretty damn needful to me.” Zoe. The one who had hit her.

Against her better judgment, Lilah opened her eyes to find herself tied to a chair in the mess. The crew was standing around. Zoe looked pissed, Mal and Inara looked mad, Jayne looked irritated, Simon and Kaylee worried, and River upset.

“So…who’s playing good cop and who’s playing bad cop?” She knew it was the wrong thing to say, but suddenly she was back in that place, facing down interrogators who wanted nothing more than to break her into pieces. Those people hadn’t managed to break her, not even after eight months. She was damned if she’d let this group do it either.

She wouldn’t break. She’d made a promise…it was the one order from the War that she would always follow. Don’t let them break you. Don’t you ever let them break you.

“Might wanna be watchin’ that smart mouth of yours, Ms. Linn. You’re in an awfully bad place right now.” Mal said, crouching down to her eye-level.

She raised her head up a notch, giving him a dismissive look.

“We don’t take to kindly to liars around here, Ms. Linn. ‘Specially one we hired on and have treated decently, like yourself.”

“I haven’t lied about anything.” Lilah said, indignantly. Her head was throbbing and her wrists were sore where the others had bound them.

“You knew Wash. You knew him, and you didn’t think to tell us.” Zoe spoke in a dangerously quiet voice.

“Wash? What the hell does your old pilot have to do with this?” Lilah asked, confused.

“Wash! Hoban Washburne! The man who stood up with your husband at your wedding! The man who used to fly this ship! My husband!”

Even the crew was looking at Zoe incredulously. No one had ever seen her lose control like that before, except Mal.

Lilah closed her eyes, partly because the light was doing no favors to her aching head, and partly to recall that sunny day when she was married on Paquin. She was there, with Wendell and her flight squadron from the War. Her, Wendell, Hopper, Hammer, and Wendell’s best man, Leaf. She pictured Leaf’s face in her mind and searched for every memory of him that she had.


Eight years ago…

“Are you nervous?” Leaf asked her as she stood looking at herself in the mirror.

She spoke to his reflection in the mirror. “A little, but it’s okay. This is right, Leaf. I know this is right. I love him.” She said.

Leaf gave her a sloppy grin, and tugged at his collar, looking very much out of his element in clothes that weren’t a flight suit.

“Aren’t you supposed to be calming my soon-to-be-husband down?”

Leaf grinned. “Well, I caught him as he tried to run, and then I forced a few fifths of alcohol down his throat so you should have him wasted enough to marry you before he either changes his mind or the alcohol poisoning kills him.”

“You did what?!”

“I’m just kidding, Aries. He’s fine. He’s nervous, but he’s fine.” He put his hand on her shoulder and she reached up to cover it with her own.

“I’m happy for you two.” He said sincerely.

“We’re so glad you could make it. And hopefully we’ll make it to your big day, if you ever find a woman crazy enough to take you on.” She joked.

“She’d have to be a hell of a woman, that’s for sure.” He said. “Well, I’d better make it back to Prince’s room, make sure he didn’t start a fire and sneak out on the food cart. I’ll see you in a few.” He kissed her cheek and left, just as her maid of honor walked in, carrying the flowers that she would need when she walked down the aisle to marry the man she loved.


“You may now kiss your wife, Wendell.”

He pulled her close and kissed her, and the world melted away. She could hear the approving whistles of Hopper and Hammer, as well as the clicking of Leaf capturing her and Wendell’s first kiss as husband and wife. They pulled apart after what felt like a lifetime and Leaf beamed at them both.

“Congratulations, you two.” He clapped Wendell on the back and kissed her cheek again. “I did so good.” He said, proudly.

As the newlyweds walked down the aisle to the back of the church, she leaned over to whisper,

“Is it just me, or is Leaf taking complete credit for our marriage?”

“Oh, it’s not you. He is very much taking complete credit for it. But I don’t care.” He smiled at her and she felt herself melt.

“And why is that?”

“Because I get to spend the rest of my life with the woman that I love.” He kissed her again, and the couple left the church, hand in hand.


“Leaf? You’re talking about Leaf?” Lilah questioned. “You guys knew him?”

“Leaf?” Mal and Zoe asked in unison.

“Hang on! You said you all used call signs, right? Was that Wash’s call sign? ‘Leaf’?” Kaylee asked. The other’s looked at her, wondering what she was on about.

“Yeah. Washburne was his last name, now that I’m thinking on it. We never called each other by our names; it was always call signs that we used. His was Leaf. That’s probably why it didn’t even occur to me that…Oh, oh God, no.” Very real grief was showing on her face. “Leaf died. He’s gone.”

“’Kay, I ain’t gettin’ this at all. Can some explain, please?” Jayne asked.

“Leaf, you guys knew him as Wash, he flew in my squadron during the War. That’s how I knew him. The five of us in that squadron, we were friends. He was Wendell’s best man at our wedding. We kept in touch for a few months and then…we didn’t hear from him again after that.” Lilah said.

“Yeah, here’s where we’re having a problem with that. Wash didn’t fight in no war. He told us very clearly himself while he was still breathin’.” Mal said.

“Yes, he did! He was the best damn pilot out of us! We looked up to him!” Lilah argued, incensed that they would tarnish his memory so.

“Wash wouldn’t have lied to me.” Zoe said evenly.

“What about his tattoo then? What did he say that was?” Lilah asked knowingly.

Zoe hesitated. How could she know about that?

“Said it was something that he got when he was young and stupid.” She finally said, reluctantly.

“Yeah, he wasn’t wrong. It was on his hip, wasn’t it? An infinity loop with a leaf in one side and the Chinese character for strength in the other.”

Zoe looked as if her entire world had crumbled beneath her.

“We all got them. Some small thing to prove that we were strong enough; that we survived hell.” She swallowed back the bitterness that had laced her words. “Mine’s on my hip, just like his was. I was there when he got it. Hammer and Hopper got theirs on their feet and Wendell’s was on his hip too.”

“This doesn’t make any sense. Why would Wash have told us that he didn’t serve if he did?” Inara questioned.

“Some survivors of the War, on both sides, couldn’t deal with the horrors they’d seen. Many went mad and retreated into themselves. Some committed suicide and some pretended that it never happened. They blocked it out.” Simon said. “We had more than a few veterans from both sides come in after having a manic episode.”

“You think he mighta blocked it out before he hired on?” Kaylee asked.

“I don’t know. But none of us would have made it if it weren’t for him.” Lilah said. “He kept our spirits up and got us through everything.”

“Zoe?” Mal asked, concerned.

Zoe had sunk heavily into a chair, looking very tired and drained.

“He lied to me, Mal. Wash lied to me. I coulda talked to him about it, helped him with the memories, and he lied to me. Told me right to my face that he never fought in the War.”

“Leaf was my friend and you have no idea how sorry I am that he died, but I haven’t done anything wrong in this. I didn’t know that it was the same man, though the toys on the bridge should have been a big damn clue. God knows he was the only man crazy enough to have them. If I had known I would have brought it up, you have to believe that. You can’t fault me just because I knew him before he ever came onboard and you can’t fault me because he apparently lied to you.” Lilah said.

“I told you before. You didn’t know that it was secret, but it was.” River said, looking at her with her head tilted to the side.

“Well, it wasn’t vague enough for me, sorry.” Lilah said trying hard to keep exasperation out of her voice. Her throat felt raw and her head ached.

“Seems like we owe you an apology, Ms. Linn.” Mal said slowly, a sinking feeling in his stomach. “Had no call to go an attack you like that before we knew the facts. We have upon occasion been known to act hastily.”

“Oh, keep Kaylee and me out of this,” Said Simon incredulously. “And River, too. We weren’t in on this.”

“I weren’t neither!” Jayne protested. “Hell, I was startin’ ta think about likin’ her.”

“Okay, fine then. Inara, Zoe, and myself are horrible and terrible people.” Mal said.

“Shiny. Think you could maybe untie me now? Before I lose all manner of feeling in my hands?” Lilah snarked. “You thrive on this stuff, don’t you?” She asked Mal.

“Some days on Serenity are more interesting than others.” Mal said, taking out a knife to cut the tape that bound her hands behind the chair.

“You all are completely feng le. ‘Cept maybe Simon, Kaylee and River.” She said. “Absolutely barking mad.”

“Hey!” Jayne yelled. “I ain’t crazy!”

“Jayne, you get sexual about your guns.” Lilah said. “That’s more than a little not normal.”

“How is your head?” Simon asked, moving over to her.

“Oh, once the blinding agony goes away it’ll just be moderately painful.” Lilah said. “Gorram you’ve got a strong arm, Zoe.”

“We really are sorry about this.” Mal said. “If you want to leave after this, we more than understand. And if there’s anything we can do to start makin’ this up to you…”

“You can start by telling what the hell happened to Leaf and how the hell a ninety-pound girl was able to take out at least a dozen men without so much as scrape on her.”

“Suppose we could discuss some of that.” Mal said and then perked up a bit. “This mean you ain’t leavin?”

“Monty would throttle me if I did. He’d probably say that this was good for building character in that jovial way of his and make me want to run my nails over metal. Meddlesome sap.” Lilah answered, taking Simon’s arm as he guided her towards the infirmary.

Zoe stopped her and to her credit, Lilah didn’t so much as flinch when Zoe touched her arm.

“I shouldn’t have hit you. I’m sorry.” She forced out.

“Yeah, well. Just don’t…do it again. If you feel the need for violence, just shoot me or stab me or…something that doesn’t involving me ending up knocked out on the floor.”

“That went well.” Jayne quipped, to no one in particular.


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



Thursday, April 9, 2009 1:28 PM


huh interesting, curious where you plan to take this.

Sunday, April 19, 2009 2:26 PM


Love this! I'd really like to know what happens next.

Friday, June 12, 2009 4:10 PM


ouch! Like the repurposing of Mal's line.


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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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 VI</i>: Mal and Zoe complete the job, with interesting results, while a bored River finds a way to occupy herself.

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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 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.

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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 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.

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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 II</i>: The crew makes the drop, a bar fight is had, and things get a little too intense while flying to Persephone.

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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 I</i>: Mal, Zoe, and River meet with their new contact and Lilah learns how Wash died. Reviews would be lovely.

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