New Blood - Chapter 5
Saturday, April 25, 2009

Maxine settles in with the crew. Inara reads Zoe the riot act about her behavior and Zoe apologizes. More action to come soon.


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 has River/Jayne. Zoë... we'll you'll have to read it. -

A/N: Taking things slow. Action will be forthcoming in a bit.


New Blood


Chapter Five


“Zoë... you are a fool,” Inara said as she stood, hands on hips in front of the first mate.

If it had been anyone other than Inara and if Zoë hadn't been injured. That comment would have resulted in at least a sore jaw.

Instead, Zoë just stared at the former companion.

Inara sat down on the low table across from Zoë who, after dinner had commandeered one of the chairs in the lounge off the galley.

“Zoë... I never thought you capable of hurting someone.”

“Seems you ain't been payin attention the last couple of years. I hurt people all the time,” Zoë replied, her voice flat.

“In the physical sense to people who are a threat to the crew... yes. But never emotionally to people who are nearly crew.”

“Maxine ain't crew.”

“She will be.”

“You got some particular insight into that? Seems this woman done wormed her way on this ship and no one cares.”

“And maybe you are against her because you are feeling guilty.”

“About what?”


Zoë sat back dumbstruck.

Inara continued, her voice now much softer, “I know you're still grieving, Zoë. We all are. You lost a husband. I think that you sometimes forget, we also lost someone. A good friend who we also loved.”

Zoë opened her mouth to speak but Inara held up her hand, “You and Wash had a love for each other that defied explanation. I hope that Mal and I have half the love for each other that you and Wash did. If that happens we will be very happy.”


“Let me finish. I know you haven't been wearing your armor like you used to. Why did you wear it out shopping?”


“Because there wasn't a threat to your life,” Inara said. “When you and Mal have gone out on jobs, ever since Wash died, you don't wear your armor. Yet when you go out shopping for supplies, you do. What does that tell me?”

Zoë sat and thought about that. She hadn't realized that she had been making conscious decisions to not wear her body armor on jobs yet donning it on her regular off ship excursions. That combined with what she remembered saying as she passed out after being shot. She wanted to join her husband. She felt a tear run down her face.

“Zoë,” Inara continued, “You are one of the strongest women I know. Please have the strength to live again.”

Zoë sniffled once, “I... I'll try.”

Inara smiled and leaned forward, planting a chaste kiss on Zoë's cheek, “That's all we can ask for. For you to try.”

Zoë's hand went to her cheek where Inara had kissed her. It had awakened something in her. Inara watched the emotions play out on her friend's face.

Finally Inara spoke again, “Brought back memories, didn't it?”

Zoë nodded slowly, “Yes.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“Mal knows,” Zoë said after a minute, “This is 'tween just us...”

“Of course.”

“Back during the war. I'd just made corporal and got transferred into the Captain's Platoon. There was only one other woman in the unit then, Private Sera Xui. Seein as we were the only two women, we got assigned to the same bunk. We got on well enough. Then... well...”

“You fell in love?”

“More like... being twenty three and horny as hell. I was pretty sure I was straight, Sera was as sly as a woman could be. Still...”

“You became lovers.”

Zoë cast her eyes down, “Yes.”

“Was it... good?”

Despite the seriousness of the question, Zoë cracked a slight grin, “Oh yeah...”

Inara giggled slightly and after a moment, Zoë joined her. The smile stayed on the first mate's face as she continued, “I weren't a virgin. Had me my share o' boys in my teen years. Just quick rolls in the hay, so to speak. But Sera...”

“Awoke something in you?”

Zoë nodded, “Yeah.”


“Eventually. We kept it under wraps. Mal knew. So did the Lieutenant. Lectured me on maintaining discipline since I was a corporal and Sara was a private. But they didn't stop us.”

“What happened?”

Zoë's face got a distant look, “What usually happens in war... people die.”

Inara took Zoë's hand in her own, “I'm so sorry.”

Another tear ran down Zoë's face, “Sara got hit. Not bad, just in the shoulder but she needed evac for treatment. Me and Mal loaded her on the shuttle and it took off. Had a med ship in orbit. Hadn't hardly docked when a 'Liance destroyer showed up. Med ship wasn't armed. Was painted white. Had red crosses on it. Clearly a medical ship. Gorram purple bellies blew it out of space.”

“Renci de Fozu,” Inara whispered.

“I kinda lost it for a while,” Zoë continued, “Long while. Wasn't till me and... Wash got together that I started feeling like... me again...”

Inara nodded, “Love has that tendency. It shows us what we really are.”

Zoë smiled again, “True statement. Since you and Mal got together, He's been more o' the man he was before Serenity Valley. I gotta thank you for that, 'Nara.”

“Even Jayne has turned into a... well you know...”

Zoë chuckled, “Real human being since him and River got together? I reckon you're right on that. I know Doc ain't been so much of a snob since him and Kaylee done started sexin.”

Inara laughed, “Very true. They act like teenagers.”

Zoë smiled, “That they do.”

Inara looked intently at Zoë, “Back to Maxine...”

Zoë took a deep breath and then let it out slow, “Reckon I better apologize.”

“A good start,” Inara replied.

“Ain't sayin I'm gonna accept her as crew yet. But...”

“You'll give her the chance...”



Maxine awoke grumbling as she swatted at the alarm. She hadn't gotten much sleep. After her and the Captain's conversation, she had spent a long time thinking.

Miranda had been a wakeup call for many people in the 'Verse. Especially in the core. She'd been on Ariel then. Working security in a hospital. She'd been hired after someone had waltzed in and cleaned out the pharmacy storeroom. Maxine actually laughed when the Captain told her it had been Serenity's crew that had been the thieves.

When the Miranda wave had hit, the media jumped all over it. The government denied it ever happened. Then over the following few months, people began to come forward. People who had lost relatives on Miranda. Soon heads began to roll in the government. Literally in some cases.

The uproar had died down after a while. Things were a little better. The fleet was off hunting Reavers down. Leaving the space lanes a little more open for transports trying to make a dishonest living. Slavery was running rampant as was piracy, but it could have been worse.

The worse was River. No wonder the girl acted so strange. After the Captain explained what had happened to her, Maxine had cried. She also vowed that if she ever met anyone who had done any of those awful things to to the girl, she would kill them. Slowly if possible.

It was at that moment, Maxine realized that she had, at least for the short term, been accepted. She knew she still had to prove herself outside of the kitchen, but it was a start.

The Zoë issue was still up in the air. The Captain said to just leave her be and Zoë would come around.

Maxine rolled out of bed and began to dress. She had hardly pulled on her underwear and bra when a knock came at her door.

“Who is it?”


“Just a second,” Maxine replied as she hastily threw on a shirt. It was long enough to cover up, “Cheeng jeen.”

Zoë slid back the door, “Sorry... thought you were dressed.”

“It's okay Zoë. Just need my pants and boots and I'm good to go. Something you need?” Maxine said, trying to be professional.

“I... uh... damn, this is hard,” Zoë sputtered.

Maxine looked at her quizzically, “Something wrong?”

“I... I want to apologize for yesterday. That was... cruel of me. Just that...”

“You're confused.”

“Yeah,” Zoë replied, slumping a bit on her crutches.

“You look like you're gonna fall over Zoë. Why don't you get over here and sit down.”

Reluctantly, Zoë hobbled forward and sat heavily on the bed. Maxine sat next to her.

Zoë opened her mouth a few times to speak. Finally she just blurted out something.

“I weren't completely honest with you yesterday...”

“About Private Xiu?”

Zoë's eyebrow shot up.

“Captain came down here last night and we had a long talk.”

“You did...”

“He told me about Private Xiu...”

“He did?”


“Remind me to shoot him later... someplace real painful.”

Maxine giggled, “Deal.”

Zoë actually smiled, “Thanks,” she replied. Then the smile faded, “I guess you can suss out why I'm a might confused about...”

“It's okay. I've been with a man before too. Just... wasn't a good time.”

Zoë caught the hint, “Imagine it wasn't. Worse since you don't lean that way.”


“Know the feelin. Didn't have the best o' times in the camps myself after the war.”

“I heard the stories. Looks like we got a couple of things in common.”

“A couple. What else did the Captain say last night?”

“Told me everything. Then I told him what I thought.”

“What did you think?”

“That if I ever run across any o' the hundan's that did that go-se to River, I was gonna kill em' slow.”

“What did the Captain say to that?”

“Said I had to take a number. Reckon I'm just gonna have to give that girl a hug, just on principles today.”

Zoë chuckled, “Don't be givin Jayne no ideas.”

“Ugh...” Maxine chuckled, “River? I'd consider it if she was willing... Jayne? No way in hell. And I don't do threesomes... well. Least if there's a man involved anyway,” She finished with a grin.

Zoë matched it, “Always thought that kinda thing got complicated.”

“It does,” Maxine laughed again, “Though I only did it the one time...”

Zoë held up her hands, “Please... no details.”

Maxine nodded, “So... we good?”

“We're good,” Zoë replied.

“Come on, I'll give you a hand up the stairs to the galley. I have a powerful need for some coffee.”

“Me too,” Zoë replied.


Mal stepped into the galley and stopped in his tracks. Inara, half a step behind, collided with his back.

Zoë was sitting in her usual chair, her injured leg propped up on a pillow on another chair. Coffee cup in front of her and laughing.

Zoë was laughing. Honest to god, real loud laughter. Thing was, Maxine was laughing along with whatever got Zoë going. River was bent over with her head on the table, shaking with mirth, pounding a fist on the table. Even Jayne had a wide grin on his face.

“You can't be serious!” Maxine said through her laughter.

“Hand to god,” Zoë replied, still chuckling, “He was sittin on the floor o' the bridge, had all them toys all spread out around him, and was makin the noises and makin em' talk. I thought right there, that we had hired a six year old in a man's body as our gorram pilot!”

“What did you do?” Maxine asked.

“I cleared my throat and he damn near jumped outta his skin. Dino's went flyin one way and he damn near teleported back into the chair.”

Listening, Mal broke out in a smile himself. He remembered that day well.

River had regained some of her composure and sat back up. She leaned against Jayne affectionately.

“And?” Maxine prodded.

“Then he just grins at me. Out from under the god awful mustache he had.”

“You say anything?” Jayne asked. He hadn't been with the crew then.

“I just asked him if we were on course and told him he better hide his toys. After that I just turned around and headed for my bunk. I held it together long enough to close the hatch before I lost it. Laughed so hard I cried. Hadn't laughed like that in years.”

Zoë was still smiling as she remembered, “Three days later, he shows up for breakfast and he'd shaved that gorram lip ferret off his face. Damn near fell outta my chair.”

Mal stepped forward with Inara on his arm, “Seems like shortly after that, I started hearin strange noises comin outta your bunk at night.”

Zoë was still beaming, “Just glad you didn't catch us on the bridge the first time we did it.”

Mal rolled his eyes and smiled at his first mate.

“The chair is actually quite comfortable...” River started to say. Jayne blanched and covered her mouth with his hand.

“Gahhh! Don't be tellin me that! I gotta sit in that chair you know...”

Inara playfully swatted Mal on the arm.

“At least you didn't have to see your best friend and brother going at it like rabbits in the engine room like I did,” River said, suppressing a shudder.

Everyone stared at River.


“Not like I wanted to see them. I was rewiring a circuit in a crawl space. Couldn't get away.”

“That's gotta be traumatic,” Maxine replied. River just shot her a grin.

“Gettin away from my crew's ruttin habits... what's for breakfast?” Mal asked.

“Pancakes and some halfway decent protein sausage... I hope.” Maxine replied with a grin.

“Mornin all,” Kaylee chirped as she entered the room, Simon a step behind. All eyes turned to the couple.

“What?” Kaylee asked.

Everyone broke out in laughter.


After breakfast Maxine was surprised. Jayne offered to let her use his exercise equipment. She graciously accepted.

After cleaning up the kitchen and changing into clothing appropriate for exercising, Maxine headed for the bay.

Jayne's eyes nearly popped out of his head, “Good gorram girl,” Jayne sputtered.

“What?” Maxine replied.

“Ain't you got nothin a bit less revealin?”

Maxine snorted with amusement. She was wearing a tight tank top that left her abdomen exposed and tight shorts. Jayne did his best to keep his eyes off her cleavage. He wasn't having much luck.

“Sorry, Jayne. I travel light so this is all I have for workout clothes.”

“Uhh.. well, I'll just set you up then be on my merry...”

“I'll need a spotter.”


Maxine chuckled, “Relax Jayne. I doubt River will say anything.”


“How about if you just call me Max? Makes it less feminine”

Jayne rubbed his face and nodded, “Okay Max. How much weight you want?”

“Two fifty.” Maxine smiled at the big man's expression, “Like I said. I'm stronger than I look.”

Half an hour later, Jayne had excused himself, saying he had to do something. Maxine was sure that something was with River in their bunk. With a smile, she had dismissed the merc, saying she was going to do some work with the dumbbells and some pull ups.

Maxine was glad that this ship had some exercise equipment. Many ships she had been on didn't bother. She had been an athlete in her teen years and had even won a few trophies for running and swimming. Maxine loved to eat good food so working out helped keep her from getting fat.

As she continued with her pull ups, she didn't notice Zoë watching her from the entrance to the common area.

The older woman stood enthralled as she watched the muscles in Maxine's arms flex. Noticing the slight sheen of sweat on her exposed skin.

Maxine dropped to the floor and stretched. Zoë snapped back to reality. She herself was dressed in sweatpants and a tank top. She had planned to try and work out a little herself. Being laid up for six days had begun to take it's toll. When they got back to Persephone, she would need to be back to battery in order to pay Badger back for what he did.

With a nearly inaudible sigh, Zoë hobbled into the bay on her crutches. Maxine turned as she heard Zoë behind her.

“Hey, Zoë.”

“Hi... I was just going to lift a bit. Gettin kinda soft... all this layin about.”

“Need a spotter? I'm all done.”

“Um, sure.”

“Have a seat. I just gotta go refill my water bottle and I'll get it set up for you.”

Zoë smiled, “Thanks. I appreciate it.”

As Maxine headed for the common area, Zoë looked up and spotted Inara and Kaylee leaning over the topmost rail of the catwalk. Both looked like the cat that had swallowed the proverbial canary.

“Ain't you two got nothin better to do?”

“Nope!” Kaylee called back, grinning from ear to ear, “Just go back to workin on... I mean workin out with Max.”

Zoë shook her head and grumbled. If anything Inara and Kaylee smiled wider. Zoë laid back on the weight bench and got in position. Waiting for Maxine to return.

With a giggle, the two other women headed for Inara's shuttle, speaking in low tones. Zoë shook her head.

“I am in deep go-se.”




Sunday, April 26, 2009 1:31 AM


I so want to see what happens next! Is Zoe going to act on her feelings? Will you write it? Need more, now!


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