New Blood - Chapter 3
Sunday, April 19, 2009

Zoe wakes up, Mal offers Max a different job and Zoe finaly gets a chance to talk to Max.


Disclaimer: Joss, Fox, Universal Own em’. (Except for Maxine. She's mine) I’m just playing. No money being made.


A new story line to recharge my Muse. Set outside my “Allanverse.” Just to see what happens. Set about a year and a half post Serenity. Story line has the standard pairings of Mal/Inara, Simon/Kaylee. Also had River/Jayne. Zoë... we'll you'll have to read it. -

A/N: The plot bunny is still kicking me in the shins...


New Blood


Chapter Three


Zoë's mind slowly switched itself on. She could smell the antiseptic odor of Serenity's infirmary first.

'Guess I'm not dead,' she thought.

With effort, Zoë forced her eyes open. The light hurt and she moaned slightly.

“Zoë? Can you hear me?”

“Doc?” she rasped out.

“Here,” Simon said,holding a straw to her lips. Zoë drank eagerly.

“What happened?” she said after a moment.

“You were shot in the leg. Nicked the artery. You nearly bled to death.”

“Probably explain why my leg hurts so gorram much.”

“Yes, it would,” the doctor agreed with a slight smile. Some of Zoë's sardonic humor was beginning to show.


“River and Jayne found you. Jayne carried you back to the ship.”

“Looks like I owe him another bottle of the good stuff.” A slight grin showed on Zoë's face.

“How are you feeling, other than the leg?”

“Kinda woozy.”

“Some of that is the pain meds and the other is blood loss. I had to give you a transfusion.”

“Thought we didn't have blood for me?” Zoë asked after a moment.

“Someone else found you just before Jayne and my sister did. River brought her back to the ship. She happened to be type O and gave you a transfusion.”


Simon nodded, “Red head. Her name is Maxine Sharpe.”

“Red? She was following me.”

“She was?”

“Her fault I walked into Badger's trap. Too busy checking my back, I didn't see in front.”

“Way she tells it, she saved your life,” Mal said from the doorway, “How ya feelin, Zoë?”

“Breathing, Sir.”

“Glad to hear it. Doc says you're gonna be off your feet for a couple of weeks.”

Zoë glared at Simon, “I am?”

“You are,” the Doctor replied, “The bullet hit the bone. Your femur is still in one piece but cracked. Even with crutches, I don't want you up for at least five days.”

The look Zoë gave the Doctor expressed exactly what she thought of that.

“Only be in here for a few days, Zoë. Then we can get you into one of the dorms for a while,” Mal said.

“Actually, we can move her into one, sometime tomorrow.”

“I got a bunk...”

“And it has a ladder,” Simon reiterated, “Not conducive to using crutches.”


“Glad that's settled,” Mal stated. “Now for the rest. Woman that found you is stayin with us for a spell.”

“Really.” Zoë stated.

Mal nodded. He knew Zoë would be stubborn about this, “She's got space experience and was lookin to work passage on a ship anyway. She's gonna help fill in some o' your work while you heal up.”

“Is that so...”

“It is,” Mal said, putting just a touch of authority into his voice. “River's acting First Mate till you're back on your feet.”

“She is?” Simon asked incredulously.

“You rather it be Jayne?” Mal asked.

Zoë couldn't help but grin at the look that crossed Simon's face. “I can imagine that didn't go over real well, Sir.”

“Be surprised. I sure was. Jayne agreed with me. Said River was more qualified than he was.”

“He did?” Simon and Zoë chorused.

Mal ran his thumbs under his braces, “Yep.”

Zoë suddenly yawned. Then looked embarrassed about it.

“looks like you need some rest there, Zoë,” Mal said, turning to leave. “Soon as you feel up to it tomorrow, we'll get you set up in one o' the dorms.”

Zoë nodded and closed her eyes. Not realizing Simon had pushed a sedative into her IV. Mal winked at the younger man.

“She should sleep until morning.”

“Good work today, Simon.”

“I wouldn't do anything less.”

“Still... We've lost enough. Can't be loosing any more.”

“What about Badger?”

“His day will come. From what Maxine described at dinner, Zoë got a chunk of his best men. Might make it easier, the time comes to set this to rights.”

“Just so we don't loose any of us in the bargain,” Simon commented.

“Can't argue that,” the Captain said before ducking out the door.


Maxine lay back on her bed. It was a damn sight better than the bunk she had on her last ship. And it was ten times better than the bed she had at the flea trap hostel she'd been staying at.

Despite the decent bunk, she couldn't sleep. While exhausted, the days events played over and over in her mind. She had killed two men today. It wasn't the first time and she was sure it wasn't the last. Still it was something she hadn't done very often.

Not to mention how much of a fool she had made of herself about Zoë. She hadn't even spoken to her yet and here she was.

Damn, she had killed over this stranger. Kept her from dying. Dying at the hands of those men.

Maxine wasn't a man hater, per say. But she was distrustful of them. Captain Reynolds seemed a decent enough sort. So did the Doctor. The women? Well Kaylee was a ray of sunshine, no doubt. Inara was cool and collected. River... well she seemed a bit strange.

Then there was Jayne. What kind of name was that for a man. She could tell he was the ships merc, even though the Captain had introduced him as in charge of 'public relations'. Still. River seemed to like him enough, considering how she hung off the big man.

Maxine's thoughts flowed back to Zoë. She had looked in on the first mate just before bed. Zoë seemed so soft and vulnerable, laying there on the bed. If only...

“Knock it off, Max,” she said to herself out loud, “She's not for you. If you're lucky, you might get to be friends.”

With a loud sigh, Maxine rolled over and tried to go to sleep.


Maxine awoke to a soft knock on her door, “Cheeng jeen.”

“Mornin Maxine,” Kaylee said as she slid the door open, “Breakfast will be ready in a minute.”

“Thank you, Kaylee.”

“Sure thing,” the mechanic replied with a smile, “You need anything?”

“Some clean clothes would be nice. I'm down to my last clean anything.”

“Once we get in the black, I'll show you where the washin machine is.”

“You are a lifesaver.”

“Nah, that's your job.”


“You saved Zoë yesterday. That goes a long way with us.”

“Glad I could help.”

“Well, I'll let you get dressed. River's cookin this mornin so I have no idea what we're havin.”

“Anything will be better than the protein bars I've been living on the last couple of weeks.”

Kaylee made a face, “Yuck”

Maxine laughed, “Tell me about it.”

Kaylee smiled and turned away, “See you in a bit.”

Maxine sighed and pulled herself out of bed. After doing a couple of stretches, she found her last clean clothes and dressed. Tan cargo pants and a t-shirt..

After dressing, Maxine made her way out of her bunk and headed for the galley. She felt much stronger today than she had last night. She had been out of breath after climbing the stairs due to her low blood count. At least the room wasn't spinning when she entered the galley.

“Good morning,” Inara said from her spot next to the Captain.

“Morning,” Maxine replied. The Captain just inclined his head in greeting.

“Good morning, Maxine,” River said cheerily from the kitchen where she was stirring something in a large pan.

Maxine pulled out the chair she had sat in the night previous during dinner. Jayne wandered in, took a look at Maxine and grumbled something.

River shot him a stern look. Maxine felt a sharp pang in her chest. She remembered her mother giving a very similar look to her father when she was a child.

Uncannily, River smiled at her as Maxine remembered her mother. Girl was a might strange.

River giggled slightly as she stirred her concoction.

Mal caught the look Maxine shot River and decided to move things along, “You up to movin some cargo today?”

“As much as I can, Captain.”

“I don't want her overdoing it today,” Simon stated as he and Kaylee entered the galley.

“Ain't gonna have her do more than she can, Doctor,” Mal replied. “Know what it feels like, my own self a few days after givin that much blood.”

Simon nodded and pulled out Kaylee's chair next to Maxine. He then sat next to the mechanic.

“Ready!” River announced as she set a large bowl on the table. It smelled good but looked dubious.

“Umm, What is it, Albatross?” Mal asked tentatively. River's culinary skills were first rate when she wanted to use them. However, her slightly scrambled brain pan led to some rather strange combinations.

“Garbage can eggs,” She said proudly.

“What?” Mal exclaimed. Simon just chuckled.

“Relax, Captain. My sister is being silly again. What she calls, 'garbage can eggs' is actually scrambled eggs with various other ingredients thrown in.”

Mal relaxed a little, “What other ingredients?”

River sat herself next to Jayne and put a large spoonful on her man's plate, “Sausage flavored protein, cheese, green peppers and the last of the real bacon.”

“Sound great,” Maxine chimed in, “I've made something like that before.”

“You know how to cook?” Mal asked.

“Some. Worked as a short order cook a few times. My momma taught me a bit before she passed on. Learned the rest by trial an error if I wanted to eat. My father could burn water.”

“Physical impossibility without fracturing water into it's constituent components,” River stated.

“It's a saying, Mei-mei,” Simon chided.

River shot Simon her 'you're a boob' expression and then smiled at Maxine, “I know that.”

Jayne chuckled.

“Whatever it may look like, it is quite good, River,” Inara stated as she dug into her eggs.

“Thank you Inara.”

“So, you're a fair hand in the kitchen?” Mal asked after a moment.

“I'm no core trained French chef but I do okay,” Maxine replied. Seeing where this line of conversation was going.

“Well... stead of lugging crates around, how bout you work your passage here in the galley? Won't be as straining as what we originally spoke about.”

“I don't mind working as a deck hand. I'm stronger than I look.”

“No doubt o' that. Just, might be a better use o' your talents. Kaylee and River are fair hands in the kitchen. Jayne too for that matter. But the rest of us ain't so good. Might be nice to have some consistency for a change.”

“All Zoë can make is soup,” Jayne commented. River smacked his arm.

“S' true,” the big man whined.

The table broke out in laughter. Inara gave the captain a small smile and nod.

“Zoë got the food supplies ordered and delivered yesterday before... well anyway. Take a look through what she got and then come see me if you need anything else, Maxine.”

“Xie-xie,” Captain.

“Once we eat, we'll get ready to receive the' cargo.”

Decision made, the crew and guest went back to eating.


“Hey, Zoë.”

“Hi, Kaylee,” the first mate replied.

“You up for some food?”

“Might be. Depends on who cooked. My stomach ain't hundred percent yet.”

“River did some eggs with a bunch o' stuff thrown in.”

Zoë smiled, “I think I can try that.”

“Brought you some coffee too.”

“You are a lifesaver girl.”

Kaylee giggled as she set the tray on Zoë's lap, “You need anything?”

“Some company would be nice.”

Kaylee looked embarrassed, “Sorry bout that. We got busy and...”

“I understand Mei-mei.”

“Well, I'll fill ya in on what's been happenin.”

Kaylee proceeded to explain about the job and that Mal decided to put Maxine on as temporary cook. Zoë frowned a bit at the mention of the new woman.

“What's wrong, Zoë?” Kaylee asked, seeing the expression on the older woman's face.

“Seems this woman's been making inroads to the crew and I ain't ever talked to her yet.”

“I can go get her if ya' like,” Kaylee offered.

“Maybe, later. Supposed to move me into one of the dorms in a bit. Maybe after that.”

“Might be for the better. Cargo got here 'bout ten minutes ago. Even got Simon helpin lug crates,” Kaylee grinned.

“Gettin the doc some exercise?” Zoë asked with a gleam in her eye.

“We been getting plenty o' the other kind,” Kaylee replied, “And he's tryin to be friendlier to Jayne. They's even workin out together... sometimes.”

Zoë smiled, “Glad to hear it.”

Mal's voice bellowing her name got Kaylee's attention. With a sigh, the mechanic patted Zoë's hand and headed for the bay, muttering under her breath.


Shortly after takeoff, Jayne, Mal and a fussing Simon had moved Zoë into Shepherd Book's old room. Chosen because it was the only one of the dorms with it's own commode. That way Zoë wouldn't have to try and make her way to the passenger head nearly thirty feet away.

After being propped up on some pillows, Zoë found herself alone again. River had fetched some of Zoë's clothes from her bunk and a few books.

Zoë tried to get comfortable. It was a futile campaign because every time she tried to move, her leg screamed in pain.

The problem now was her backside had gone to sleep. In frustration, she hurled the book she had been reading across the room. I clattered noisily to the deck.


Maxine had gone back to her room to lay down. She was stronger today but she winded easily. She heard the thump and curse come from across the hall.

She had avoided meeting Zoë. Embarrassed about what had been revealed. Still, Zoë might need help. Maxine pulled herself off her bunk and opened her door. Two steps later she was outside the door to Zoë's temporary room. She knocked.

“What?”came Zoë's exasperated voice.

Do you need any help?”

“No! Well... yeah I do,” the voice replied, loosing some of it's fire.

Slowly, Maxine slid the panel open to find brown eyes staring at her, “Hi,” she said after a moment.

“You must be Maxine.”

“That's me.”

Zoë stared at her for a long moment. Maxine was sure those brown eyes were looking into her soul.

“I need a hand shifting position here,” Zoë said after a moment.

Maxine nodded once and entered the room, trying to not stare. Zoë was only wearing a tank top and her underwear. The bandage on her leg contrasting against her dark skin. The dark splotch of a bruise was visible on her chest, just above the scooped neck of Zoë's top. Maxine stepped up to the bed.

“What do you need?”

“I need to get these damn pillows out from behind me so I can lay down. My backside went numb.”

Maxine nodded, “Relax your legs and give me your hand. I'll pull you forward. Then I can get the pillows out.”

With Maxine's help, Zoë was able to lean forward enough for the younger woman to get the pillows from behind Zoë.

Leaving just a pair, Maxine lowered Zoë back.

A slight smile came across the first mate's face, “That's better.”

“Glad I could help,” Maxine said as she turned to leave.

“Why were you following me?”

Maxine froze in the doorway. After a moment her shoulders slumped, “Because I'm an idiot.”


Maxine sighed and turned around, “I'm sly. I saw you in the marketplace and you had this... presence. I thought you were kinda... hot.”

Zoë snorted in amusement. Maxine's face turned even more downcast.

“Sorry,” Zoë said, “Last one who ever called me 'hot' was my husband.”

“They told me he... died a while back.”

Zoë looked up at the ceiling for a moment as she tried to keep her emotions under control. “Eighteen months ago.”

“I should go...”

“It's okay,” Zoë said, cutting her off, “River said you got two of the hundans trying to kill me.”

“Yeah,” Maxine admitted.

“And tied off the bleeder in my leg... according to Simon.”

“Also true.”

“And gave me near on two pint's o your own blood...”

Maxine just nodded.

“Thank you.”

Maxine smiled. Zoë returned it.

“You're welcome.”

“I... I think I'm gonna take a nap. Thanks for helping.”

“Get some rest Zoë,” Maxine said as she closed the door behind her as she left.

Outside in the corridor, Maxine leaned on the wall and let out a long breath, “I am such a fool...”

“No you're not.”

Maxine nearly jumped out of her skin, “River!”

“Sorry. And I meant what I said. Zoë doesn't want a lover... not yet anyway. And you might not be that person either.”


“But, she does need a friend.”

“Zoë has all of you...”

“True. But we are all too close. She lost a husband. We lost a friend and in many ways a brother. As an outsider, she might... be able to let go.”

“I understand,” Maxine replied.

“I knew you would.”

“How did someone as young as you get to be so smart?”

“Mostly genetics,” River giggled.

The smile on Maxine's face told the rest of the story.




Sunday, April 19, 2009 7:03 AM


Mostly genetics ... love that. And Zoe does need someone to be her friend, someone who didn't know Wash but could be taught. Is there anything Max isn't any good at? Maybe she can be set to do the laundry and everyone's unders come out pink ...

Sunday, April 19, 2009 2:07 PM


Yuppers....loved River's response. Shaping up to be a great chapter in the Allanverse.

Monday, April 20, 2009 12:25 AM


Maxine is developing nicely, and you have the crew interactions down pat.

Love where this is heading. Anxiously awaiting.


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