Family (Part 14/14)
Monday, March 26, 2012

Words of comfort, love and goodbye.


The Black was calling.

It had taken him a long while to feel the pull of the sky this time – almost a week, which was an eternity by his standards – but he definitely felt it now. And once again it was because he was running.

This place had lulled his senses, brought him an inner peace he hadn't had for years, and when that cocoon eventually shattered the results had been even more devastating. Grief and death and destruction seemed to follow him around wherever he went in the 'verse, and he should have known he would bring it to beautiful little havens like this as well. And let it rain down over innocent people.

He had wanted to leave since Obadiah's funeral, but knew he couldn't take off without at least trying to clean up some of the mess he'd created, and so he and the ship had stayed for another couple of days. But now the repairs to the house was well underway and a new barn was beginning to rise from the ashes, and so he had finally ordered Kaylee to heat up the engines and Wash to plot the course for their next destination.

Mal hadn't been of much use himself, on account of his busted shoulder, and he felt useless even now as his people were loading Serenity without his help. He was watching them from a distance, from a small hill in the meadow, feeling the need for isolation.

She still found him, and of course she would. She knew her way around here. He sensed her approach and knew it was her, even before she spoke. "You been avoidin' me," she said.

He glanced at her over his shoulder. There was still kindness in her eyes, and he found it impossible, not to mention unnecessary, to lie to her. "Yes, Radiant, I have."

She stepped closer, studying him intently. "You blame yourself."

He looked away. He didn't have to confirm her suspicions. She waited a decent amount of time for a reply though, before she rightfully concluded that she wasn't going to get one, and continued, "If it matters to you at all, I don't."

"You should," he said, or rather snapped. "Please don't defend me. I brought a whole lotta ugly down on you and yours. I got your brother-in-law killed, gorramit!"

"MacHaig killed Oba, not you," she snapped back. "And he was givin' me a hard time long before you ever showed up. Yes, you might have provoked him, but he still made the choice to turn violent."

Mal sighed and looked at his hand. There was dirt under his fingernails. "I went in over my head," he muttered. "Don't really know what happened. I was just so… eager to make everythin' right. Because you…" He stopped.

"Because I remind you of someone," she finished for him. "I get it. I feel quite honored actually."

He turned even further away from her. "Please, you're makin' it worse."

"No," she said. "No, you listen to me now. Because I have this feelin' you do this a lot; takin' the blame for the sins of the 'verse. And I wish you wouldn't, 'cause that's too big a load for one man. It'll break ya in the end."

She paused a little, giving him another chance to weigh in. But he still didn't.

"You lost everything," she continued. "A war, your planet, your kin, your ties, your purpose. And now you figure the only way to keep from losin' any more is by not possessin' it. But keeping all that potential sorrow at a distance won't make you happy. It'll only make you hollow. And cold. So if I made you feel somethin', then I'm glad. 'Cause you deserve a shot at happiness, Mal, and there ain't nothin' wrong with that."

Silence fell between them once more, and for a moment it seemed as if she was going to leave. But she stayed and when he finally gave in and turned to look at her, she smiled a little and added, "You should tell her, Malcolm."

"Tell who what?" he asked.

"You know who, and you know what."

The sound of a child laughing caught their attention, and they both turned their heads to see some movement in the tall grass down below. It was Jayne with little Finn perched upon his shoulders; the boy was wearing his uncle's broad brimmed hat and giggled joyfully. A smile caressed Radiant's features as she took in the sight. Then she turned back towards Mal, looking all serious. "If you truly believe you owe me somethin', then please protect my son," she said. "From the one thing he can't protect himself from."

"I'll do my best," Mal promised her.

She joined him as he started making his way back to his ship. "Radiant," he said as they followed the trail down the hill, "I've always wanted to know, why orange?"


"The hat that you made for Jayne. Why orange?"

She burst out laughing. A hearty, bubbly laugh that made him smile. "It's a hunter's tradition," she explained. "We wear orange in the woods so we won't be mistaken for game. Plus the yarn was on sale." He chuckled, and she glanced teasingly at him. "Perhaps I should make you one?"

"Well, I don't know. Orange isn't really my color."

"Okay, then," she smiled. "Brown it is."


Simon pulled Radiant aside as she arrived with the captain and showed her the contents of the box he was carrying. "These are painkillers," he said. "Hypos… pills…. They should make him more comfortable when…" He couldn't get himself to finish the sentence. "Towards the end," he said instead.

"Thank you," she replied, accepting the box.

He swallowed hard. "I'm so, so very sorry this is all I can do."

"You've done plenty," she said and squeezed his hand. "You brought us an explanation and hope for the future. Trust me, that's a lot."

He nodded, not knowing what else to do to show his appreciation, and turned around to find River. She and Mattie were close by; she had her arms around him and her head pressed against his chest, her eyes were closed. Sighing, Simon stepped closer. "River," he gently nudged his sister, "Say your goodbyes. It's time to go."

"Ssh," she whispered, not opening her eyes, "I'm listening to his heart."

Simon frowned a little, and Mattie smiled innocently at him and shrugged. River finally looked up. "Come see me," she smiled at Mattie.

Simon felt his heart sink. All those attempts at explaining things to her, and he still hadn't gotten through…

Mattie only calmly returned the smile. "When I'm stardust," he said.

"When you're stardust," she repeated, and leaned in to kiss his pale lips.

And Simon understood in that very moment that River knew what she needed to know and even some, and that this went a lot deeper than he'd realized, and he felt stupid and silly and didn't really know where to look.

River slowly let go of Mattie and headed up the ramp. She stopped at the top to look back and wave at him, and then she disappeared inside and out of sight.

"I hope you have better luck with her," Mattie said, and Simon turned to face him. "Don't give up."

"I won't," he promised, then shook the man's hand one last time and went after his sister.


Jayne put Finnegan back down on the ground once they'd reached the boat. The boy grinned at him and handed him his hat back. "You keep that," Jayne said. "Suits ya."

"It's too big," the kid laughed.

"You'll grow into it," Jayne assured him. "You're part Cobb. We grow."

He glanced over at all the others saying their goodbyes in front of the ship's ramp, and then crouched down in front of his nephew. "You be good to your sister now," he admonished him. "And respectful to your mama. And, uh, listen to your poppa, okay? Become just like him, a decent man who takes care of his family." Finn solemnly nodded. Jayne rose. "Jus' don' tell 'im I said that," he added.

Still giggling, the boy took off and ran to join his parents, and as Jayne watched him leave he caught sight of Jo coming his way. He straightened his back.

"Are you sure you don't wanna stay for a while?" the captain had asked him earlier. "We could always come back for you later if you need some time."

Jayne had declined. He was ready to leave. Not that he was in a hurry or anything. On the contrary, this was the first time he left New Inverness and wasn't running away. And that was why this was as good a time as any to head on out.

Not wanting to do it in front of the crew, he'd already said his goodbyes in private. His mother had been the easiest, surprisingly enough. None of them had said much, he'd just held her, long and hard, and then she'd patted his cheek. "Your captain's a good man," she'd said. "You behave now." He'd replied with a grunt. She could interpret it the way she wanted.

Mattie had been the weirdest and most uncomfortable. How were you even supposed to say goodbye forever to a brother you hardly knew at all? "You did good," he'd finally managed to say. "Offerin' yourself up and all that. It was stupid, of course, but still…"

"Be nice to River," had been Mattie's reply. "Well, as nice as you can. Or, mark my words, I'll haunt you." Again he'd answered with a grunt.

Jo was the only one left, and now as she came towards him, he knew it couldn't put it off anymore. She had the guitar in her hands, and smiled and turned her head to follow Finn with her eyes as he ran passed her. Next she looked back at Jayne and held out the instrument to him. "I want you to have Poppa's guitar," she said. "It's only fair you should have some of his." She smiled and added, "I'll keep the banjo."

He accepted the offer. It was a nice gesture and he hoped she saw how much he appreciated it. "Thanks."

"So," she said and put her hands in her back pockets. "Goodbye."


She nodded and turned to walk away. "Jo, I'm sorry," he blurted out. She stopped and glanced back at him. "I'm sorry I left ya. It wasn't fair, I know. I shoulda brought you along."

"No," she calmly replied. "Leaving was your calling, not mine."

He frowned. "But you said you hated this place."

"Well… yeah, I did," she said. "But I've come to realize that the place weren't really the problem. It was that you weren't here." She released her hands from her pockets and threw her arms out. Her voice shook as she continued, "The men in town are scared of me, and the women don't understand me. You were my only friend, Jayne. You still are. And you never even wrote me."

"I wrote," he protested.

"You wrote Ma," she corrected him. "All I got was a 'say hi to the others' at the end of the letter. I wanted some words just for me. The things you can't tell Ma. Secrets like the ones we used to have." She tilted her head a little to the side. "You're the only one who gets me." Despite the sadness in her eyes, there was still a tiny smile tugging at her mouth. "I miss you."

For a long moment they just looked at each other. Then he stepped forward and pulled her in. "I miss you too," he replied as he wrapped his arms tightly around her, the guitar still in his hand. "I want to take you with me right now. We'd have fun out there."

She laughed and looked at him. "I bet we would. And one day I wanna see the 'verse. But for now I think I'll stay put. There gonna be some big changes around here and I aim to be part of those changes. Finish what Pop started, you know."

"You'll do fine. He'd be proud of ya."

"So go on," she urged him. "Go pirate or whatever it is that you do. And I'll hold down the fort. Jus' don't wait another ten years before you come visitin' again."

"I won't," he said. "And I'll write ya, I promise."

"Jayne!" Mal hollered from the ramp. "We're leaving!"

Jayne planted a kiss on his sister's cheek. "Take care."

"You too," she smiled as he let go of her and jogged towards the ship. He hugged his mother one last time and then went up the ramp and entered the cargo bay. There he turned around and waved at his family until the doors closed and he couldn't see them anymore.

He was still standing there as the ship took off, and not before the familiar shaking told him they were about to clear atmo, did he glance down at the guitar in his hand and turned around to head for his bunk.

River had assumed her favorite spot up on the catwalk, and as he ascended the stairs, he heard her singing to herself, "Tell me something real, tell me something true. I just wanna feel there's something left that I can do."

He wondered for a moment if he should yell at her, just for old times sake, but in the end he just picked up his pace and hurried out of there, so she shouldn't see that he was actually smiling.

"But I'm nobody's baby, I'm everybody's girl, I'm the queen of nothing, I'm the kiii-iiiiiing of the world!"



The series continues in "Book of Secrets"


Monday, March 26, 2012 9:46 AM


Aw. This was nice.

The star dust was poignant, though I'm not sure how that would work. But oh well. I think it was intended to be metaphorical.

The parting with Jo was also good, as was the explanation about where Jayne got that guitar for the movie.

Monday, March 26, 2012 11:23 AM


Brilliant. Loved how you gave this a proper ending and I like how wise Radiant is and that Jayne got to be at peace again with his sister Jo and the family. While I feel sorry Simon couldn't heal Mattie real life is like that and the acceptance he came to over his condition gave him a certain grace that our intuitive little River understood bone deep. Well done for a good tale, beautifully told. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Monday, March 26, 2012 1:52 PM


I liked the Mal POV, and especially the scene between Mal and Radiant, as she mothers him despite himself. The scene between Jayne and Jo was well drawn; nice detail in the passing of the guitar. A very fine tale, MK. Thank you very much for posting this.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 10:17 AM


Yey, you noticed the guitar :) I think we're ready for the BDM now.

Saturday, November 24, 2012 6:44 AM


Well...another adventure finished, another set of resolutions earned. Time to float out and see what can be found for our beloved BDHs, huh?


Fantastic work with this story, MarKomi! I especially loved how Radiant mothered Mal by making it clear Mal did nothing to make the situation bad, just lance an infected wound that was only going to get worse. Just hope Mal takes things to heart...


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Angels We Have Heard (Part 5/5)
Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

Angels We Have Heard (Part 4/5)
Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

Angels We Have Heard (Part 3/5)
Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

Angels We Have Heard (Part 2/5)
Christmas special. Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

Angels We Have Heard (Part 1/5)
Christmas special. Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

The Night Before (revised and reposted)
It's the night before Christmas and Jayne is having spiritual problems. Literally.

Book of Secrets (Part 8)
Mal drew a deep breath and exhaled slowly, closing his eyes for a moment. "Gorram preacher," he muttered.

Book of Secrets (Part 7)
Kaylee comes clean and River goes for a swim.

Book of Secrets (Part 6)
The captain dances, Inara's feeling out the new girl and the first secret is revealed.

Book of Secrets (Part 5)
Zoë and Inara have a heart-to-heart, and Mal discovers more shades of grey.