Sunday, January 5, 2003

Mal tries one last time to stop Zoe from marrying Wash.


Note: My first fanfic. Feedback is welcome, particularly the genuinely critical kind.

Disclaimer: Firefly belongs to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and the Fox Corp.



It was the first genuine moment of clarity he had had since he first shoved open the doors to Serenity’s cargo bay. Standing there, on the bridge of his ship, feeling Zoe’s fingers slide through and out of his, Mal was certain that his life would forever be unclear. These short, small glimpses were all he was ever going to get again.

His first moment had come on the ranch, on Shadow, when he was young. He was trying to break a pony that had gone wild. Cropping the horse wasn’t working. No amount of wrestling, feeding, cooing was doing the trick. The horse was wild and would stay wild. Live free, he though, as he reached in to cut the rope from the horse’s neck. The horse whipped past him on its way out of the corral, bounding toward open country.

Then, there was the war. News came over the Cortex continually. News and orders to join the Alliance. Give the Alliance taxes due. Provide the Alliance with able bodied men and more and more and more resources. Live free, he thought, pulling on his brown coat and holstering his weapon.

Next, his angels betrayed him. Until that moment he had not known a cynical part of himself. He would have said that such did not exist. But he watched as the air support, his last, best hope landed softly on the ridge above Serenity Valley. He ripped the crucifix from around his neck, dropped it, and used his heel to grind it into the dirt. He screamed, firing off round after round, into the air, at the cruisers, toward the oncoming Alliance tanks.

Two years later that crucifix showed up quietly on the desk in his bunk. It was bent and tarnished. It had no chain. He opened a drawer and swept it in. Then he didn’t so much talk to Zoe for a couple days. When he finally did speak again, all he said was, “We need to find us a pilot and I got us a lead. Remember Zoe, them as want to live free.” She nodded silently. And everything after that was normal. As normal as could be in the pursuit of liberty.

But here he was, on the bridge of his ship, his freedom, feeling another part of that walk away.

“Zoe,” he started, unable to make himself plead with her.

“Sir?” Her mind was made up: for better or worse; in sickness and health. In the neverending search for freedom and peace and some damn ironic serenity.

He couldn’t speak. He couldn’t make any sound. He wanted to beg. He wanted to remind her of all the times she had sneered at Wash. Of all the times she had arched a brow or rolled her eyes at him behind his back. Of all the times she had stomped off the bridge, or out of the cargo bay, too furious to speak but not too furious to hook a thumb back toward Wash, leaving him, Mal, the captain, to sort out another disagreement.

“You said he gave you a bad feeling!” He choked the words out. He hoped she would remember the day they hired Wash. The way the pilot had looked her up and down, twice, before agreeing to take the job. Mal remembered that he had been too excited about the prospect of an excellent pilot at first. Only later did he recall that look. It made him want to deck Wash. And he almost had.

“A year ago I said he gave me a bad feeling. Now I say he gives me a good feeling. A hopeful feeling. Like a chance to be a real woman. Have a real life.” Her voice sounded resigned, but her shoulders were set square. She was immovable.

Her fingers broke from his. She stood. He sat. She turned to face him, even though he wouldn’t look her in the eye.

“I’m going now, sir. I’ll be back in a couple hours.” Her fingers absently smoothed the skirt she was wearing over her hips. He thought, totally unerotically, that she looked naked without a holster. He could just make one out though, under the shoulder of the embroidered jacket she had borrowed from Inara. That was his Zoe. Wouldn’t even get married without her weapon. “When I get back, nothing will be different. We’ll be the same. You and I will be the same.” The clarification wounded him, but not deeply.

“Zoe,” he tried hard to keep from shouting.

“Nobody ever said you couldn’t come, sir. I said, Wash said it too, that we’d be honored and proud to have you stand up for us. With us.”

“Live free, Zoe.” He didn’t look her in the eye.

“Free as I know how, Sir.” And she walked away.

Moments later, he heard Wash murmuring in the corridor. Then he heard their footsteps clanging down stairs in the cargo bay. He heard the mule come to life and his heart drive away with her love. How could he have stood there, while she pledged her love and life to another man?

But he never said he loved her. Never touched her with passion. Never taken her on his arm, let alone to his bed. And he didn’t want to at that moment. He didn’t want her to be his woman; only to be his best friend and to let him be hers. He thought certainly his love for her was purer than Wash’s. Immaculate compared to Wash’s. Ta ma duh, nigh on perfect compared to Wash’s.

But she wanted her freedom and he aimed to see that she lived free.


Sunday, January 5, 2003 8:10 AM


This is just lovely! Excellent look at the Mal/Zoe dynamic, as well as a great peek into Mal's character.

Tuesday, January 7, 2003 3:04 PM


Perfect. Absolutely perfect. Living free means different things to different people. Mal's not ready to be quite that free, but Zoe is.

"Please, sir, may I have some more?"

Wednesday, January 8, 2003 5:15 AM


This was a really good story about Zoe and Mal. Their relationship is based on utter respect, but like you very well pointed out, Mal does in fact love her in his own little way.

Very good, please write more.

Wednesday, January 8, 2003 12:03 PM


Damn. If they start a book series, make sure that you're one of the authors.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003 5:12 PM


Wow. Id offer constructive criticism, but the best i can think of is "want more!! NOW!!"

Saturday, January 25, 2003 8:23 PM


Shiny. I usually balk at stories revolving 'round Mal & Zoe cause they usually have this weird love-triangle thing going on and most often make no sense, but this was good.

Saturday, January 25, 2003 8:27 PM


I usually balk at stories revolving 'round these two, because I've had bad experiences with Mal & Zoe fics, usually due to a crappy author and the fact that I'm not a big 'shipper type. But this didn't force any unwanted pairings on me. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 2, 2003 10:35 AM


Great job, Sarahetc. I, too, loved the cross part. I think you captured Mal AND Zoe.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003 10:57 AM


I loved it. You caught how emotionally crippled Mal is perfectly.

Friday, December 3, 2004 12:00 AM


Mmmhmm... So it begins.

Keep flyin'

Saturday, November 26, 2011 1:00 PM


i like from what i go t anyway that mal thi nks of zoe and not only his best friend but as a chance not to screw up another life and that he is verrrrry protective of her and her heart :) great insid elook thank you so much :)


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Red Rocket, White Candle
I ain't sayin' there's any peace to be had, but if there is, Wash will find it in the Western sky.

Married and Madly in Love
In the aftermath of Saffron, Wash and Zoe talk marriage, stars, and geese.

Consistent Resurrection
A short history of Zoe.

First Mate
Wash is injured-- physically, and by Zoe's reluctance to make him her first priority.

Laid Bare
Ever wonder what happened to that ambulance? A little bridge between Ariel and War Stories.

Natural Talent
Kaylee and Wash? It could have happened, but it didn't.

Over and Over and Over
Moments of Zoe, in the spaces of War Stories.

Extreme Unction
The living heart of Serenity bleeds to death. A volley at Succatash.

The Heart of Her
Wash proposes.

Mood to Burn Bridges
Mal's original edict on shipboard romances