Saturday, November 26, 2005

"Simon and Kaylee contemplate parenthood. Book is worried about Chung-li and tries to talk some sense into him. River has a suspicion confirmed."



SUMMARY: "Simon and Kaylee contemplate parenthood. Book is worried about Chung-li and tries to talk some sense into him. River has a suspicion confirmed" The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

It was more than a little frightening to realise how little control Simon had over the events in his life. Running flat out to the engine room had seemed like such a good idea at the time but that was before he had skidded to a hasty halt just as Kaylee threw up over him. Now he stood stock still, staring at her in stunned surprise while covered in vomit. Not his best day ever. Only the fact that her face went even greener when she saw what she had done difused what would have been a scathing tirade given in reaction rather than anger. Right now the look on her face reminded him of one thing and one thing only. Kaylee was pregnant with *their* child. That little miracle, however, did nothing to aid his powers of speech.

Tentatively Kaylee broke the silence, her voice hesitant, eyes searching his face for some sign that he was not angry with her. Her hair was wet and matted, her coveralls a mess, the engine room splattered here and there with signs of her inability to hold back the turmoil in her stomach. She could not read the look on his face. What Simon was actually thinking was that if his wife had wanted to redecorate the engine room she could have just asked. Not that they had any paint, paper or other supplies but it would have been a courtesy. Now he was numbly enjoying the play of emotions on his wife's nervous face. It wasn't often someone did a worse job expressing themselves than he did. At least he could appreciate the novelty value.

"S.. Simon? You startled me. I... I didn't mean to... ya know..." She waved a vague hand in his direction, wincing at the sight of her beloved looking like something a Reaver wouldn't touch with a barge pole. His continued silence unnerved her. "S... Simon? Say somethin'. Yell, scream, whatever. You're frightenin' me gorramit."

To her consternation Simon smiled then against all reason began to walk towards her. Kaylee frowned. Couldn't he see the shape she was in? She must look and smell foul not to mention what he was like. But Simon Tam was nothing if not single minded. At her baffled expression his smile softened and he cocked his head slightly, the angle of his smile like an horizon holding her screwed up world level. "You want to know something, *bao bei*?"

Unable to speak she nodded. Simon closed the last few inches between them, raising a hand to her face and gentle teasing the wet hair off her face.

"You are so *mingliang* and *meili*."

Kaylee blinked. "Huh?" As his words sank in her expression changed and she put her hands on her hips. "Are ya makin' fun of me, Simon Tam, 'cause if ya are..." She stopped suddenly, her gut roiling up again. A look of horror rushed over her face just as she changed colour and put a hand over her mouth.

Experience must have sharpened the doctor's wits somewhat as this time he ducked just as a new wave of interior design collided with the wall behind him. Simon shook his head and chuckled softly, then laughed at the horrified expression on his wife's face. "Oh *xin gan*, I spent years as a trauma surgeon on Osiris. You throwing up over me is nothing compared to days and nights spent up to my elbows in someone's guts and I mean that in the worst possible way. The blood and the gore were one of the only constants along with the lack of sleep. I can't say I miss that."

Blinking back tears, Kaylee let him fold his arms around her. It took several moments for Kaylee to realise that Simon was gently steering her out of the engine room. "Where we goin'?"

His smile was deeper this time, amusement twinkling in his eyes. "Would you believe to get cleaned up?"

Her eyebrows rose and she wrinkled her nose. "Ya mean...?"

"Yes, Kaylee. I think it's time we christened those newly installed showers you put in."

Kaylee's smile blinded him. "Think I'd like that."

As they walked, arms around each other, he leaned in close and told her all the things they could do in the shower once they were clean. Kaylee giggled and blushed. "I ain't double jointed."

His laughter warmed her heart. "And I'm not Top Three Per Cent for nothing, Mrs Tam."

* * * * *

Shepherd Book listened to Chung-li in silence. Disturbed by the big man's assertion that he was looking for justice not revenge. It sounded an awful lot like the two words meant the same thing in the Chinaman's mind. Not only that but if Chung-li went looking for those he deemed responsible for what had happened on Glory the Captain was fool enough to follow him. The pull of friendship could make any man blind to the consequences and they needed the Captain here on Serenity not fighting another man's war. He knew he was being selfish but this was not their fight.

"I am going to ask the Captain to stop on Hope. It will be a good place to start."

"Chung-li," Said Book gently. "Let the dead lie."

Something stirred in the big man's eyes like a shadow over the soul and the Preacher found that unnerving. It was the first time he had ever felt discomfitted in the man's presence. Normally Chung-li radiated calm, his presence a positive force for good. Full of wisdom and light. Now he did not know what to make of the man's darkening mood and that unsettled him. "I ask no one to go with me."

Book sighed softly. "And the Captain? Do you think he will let you go alone?"

"Hope is a peaceful world, Shepherd Book."

"So was Armageddon before the end of the world was unleashed."

"Armageddon is a place?"

"In a manner of speaking."

"What are you afraid of?"

"That you will go seeking death - and find it."

"Do not fear for me."

The Shepherd shook his head. "*Ni bu dong*."

"You are wrong, you think I will take this ship and crew into Armageddon with me."

"We go wherever our Captain goes," Said Book carefully. "And I cannot see the Captain letting you do this alone."

"Then do not tell him."

His answer surprised Book so much it took a moment or two for him to respond. "You want me to lie to the Captain?"

"*Bu qu*, just do not offer up details not asked for."

"And if the Captain should ask?"

"Then it will be out of your hands."

For a minute neither man spoke then Book's soft words echoed a sad descant as if he already knew the answer. "Is there nothing I can do to deter you?"

"No, *yiwusuoyou*."

Chung-li politely excused himself and left Book in the cargo bay alone. Troubled but not knowing what to do about it the Shepherd went to find Jayne. He needed someone to spot him while he lifted some weights, a good workout would hopefully free his mind to come up with an alternative that all of them could live with.

* * * * *

Wash was amused more and more by the changes River was having on the Captain. Not only was the man more relaxed than he had ever seen him but unless he was mistaken Mal was actually *humming*. If that wasn't a sound full of happy he didn't know what was. He was tempted to tease him about it but the cautioning look on Zoe's face stopped him. Instead he spun in his pilot's seat and looked at the Captain. "Where to, Mal?"

"How we doin' for fuel, Wash?"

"We're shiny but could do with toppin' up next planet-fall."

"So how far can we go before we need to be doin' that?"

Before the pilot could answer Chung-li joined them on the bridge. Mal turned and smiled at his friend. The Captain had not seen much of the Chinaman since burying Shen Ling on Glory. He knew the man had been keeping to himself, no doubt in mourning for his sister and was right pleased to see him back in circulation again. In his heart he hoped it meant his friend was healing. "Chung-li, we were about to lay in a course. You got any preferences?"

The man smiled at the Captain. "Can we go to Hope?"

A spasm of pain flickered over the Captain's face. His happy mood draining out of him. "What you want on Hope, Chung-li?"

"It is where we must part company, *wode pengyou*. Your path and mine are not the same."

The Captain frowned not liking the sound of that. Zoe felt a horrible presentiment of doom. She saw the baffled look on Wash's face, not understanding that more was being said in the silence between words that by the words themselves. Zoe could sense it and didn't like it but for now would hold her peace. It was the Captain's call.

"What you wantin' with Hope?"

Chung-li really had not intended to say anything to Mal but when his friend asked a direct question he deserved a straight answer. A man should not lie to his *pengyou*. "Answers."

Alarmed, every sense in the Captain's body sharpened. "You know somethin' about what happened on Glory?"

The big man shook his head. "Not know, sense."

"What you sensin'?"

"I just want answers."

For a couple of seconds Mal stared at him then slowly nodded, his expression grim. "Then you ain't goin' alone."


The Captain raised a hand and stopped the Chinaman in his tracks. "I'm comin' with you an' that's the end of this discussion, *dong ma*?"

"I cannot ask you to come with me."

"Then don't. My decision an' don't try an' talk me out of it."

Part relieved and part unhappy Chung-li dipped his head in thanks and left the bridge. The Captain stared into the Black and spoke to Wash without looking at him, his mind racing through all kinds of possibilities. None of them pleasing him. "Set a course for Hope, Wash."

"Um, not to question your decision Cap'n but do you think that's wise? I mean, we don't know what we'll be gettin' into."

"Not askin', Wash." Mal paused as he walked to the door and looked back at the pair of them. "An' before you get to worryin' this won't involve anyone but me an' Chung-li. We get to Hope I want you to fuel the ship. Zoe, get the doc to stock up on supplies an' see if the Shepherd can scout for some fresh food. Be all kinds of satisfyin' to eat real food for a change."

"What're you gonna do?"

The Captain flashed a patently false smile which did nothing to reassure either his pilot or his first mate. "Just watchin' out for a friend. *Fang xin*, this don't have to get messy."

As the Captain left the bridge Wash looked at the sour expression on his wife's face. "Who's worried?" Without a word Zoe followed the Captain. Sighing Wash spun back to his console and began to plot and lay in a course for Hope. From the look in Zoe's eye he wouldn't want to be in Mal's shoes right now.

The Captain heard her familiar footfall but did not pause or turn his head. A man with a mission he kept right on walking right up until she spoke. "Sir, this is a bad idea."

Mal paused on the catwalk. "You sure you wanna be havin' this conversation right here?"

She blinked. Collected her thoughts and nodded curtly then passed him and led the way to her bunk trusting the Captain to follow. He knew ignoring her concern would just be piling up a whole heap of trouble on top of hurt feelings and he in no way wanted to do that. Inara was babysitting Jack in her shuttle so he knew they would at least be able to talk without any distractions. At least until the next crisis hit. Once they were in her bunk, Zoe turned and let Mal see how annoyed and upset she was through her tightly controlled mask of emotions. The more affecting because she kept so iron calm about it. It put him on notice that this would be serious. "Do you remember what you said back in the valley?"

His lips thinned, body tensing. "Not like to forget."

"You said *not nothin' gonna part us but death an' even that's nothin' but a pause in creation'." Zoe paused, watching him closely. "Always thought it was kind'a poetic."

"That it is but it's time to move on."

"Thought that's what we were doin', sir." She said softly. Zoe paused a moment. "What's goin' on, Mal? An' I ain't talkin' about this *fei hua*."

He wanted to tell her to drop it. That this was in no way her business but he couldn't do that. He *was* her business just as she was his. Didn't matter a good gorram that she was married and had a child or that he was hooked up with River and hoping to have a similar arrangement. They were the closest thing either had left to family. Closer than blood kin.

"He's my friend, Zoe."

"What does that make us?"

Mal sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "What you want me to say? Let him go alone an' pay no mind to the fact he might not come back? That what you wantin' to hear? Ain't gonna leave a man behind, Zoe, just 'cause things look to be goin' smooth for once on Serenity. Couldn't live with it if anythin' went wrong."

Zoe did know, understood, but that didn't make seeing him do something foolish any easier to take. Especially if it meant watching him walk into danger. Plus Hope was filled with all sorts of painful memories for the Captain. Wasn't gonna be easy even if nothing happened. "Mal, this is somethin' Chung-li has to do not you. Don't turn this into somethin' it ain't."

Anger flashed in his eyes. "How can you say that let alone think it? Chung-li saved my gorram life, Zoe. Brought me outta hell an' almost lost his life his own self. Think he thought about whether or not life was smooth? Ain't sayin' this again, I'm goin' an' that's that."

"Then I'm comin' too."

He started to shake his head, lips compressed into a thin stubborn line she knew only too well. Instead of backing down she stepped up close and put a hand on his shoulder, the unexpected touch silencing him better than cannon fire.

"I have to come, Mal." She said softly, her quiet voice almost echoing in the sudden silence. "I won't leave a man behind either." She paused and waited but the Captain did not say anything. He knew when he had been out manouevred. "Besides," She added drily. "It's better than stayin' behind an' tryin' to explain to River why I let you go."

The Captain closed his eyes and groaned aloud. Gorrammit, River. *Tian Yesu* how could he have forgotten his little albatross? She was gonna be all kinds of mad at him when she found out.

* * * * *

River took an inordinate amount of pleasure in the silences of the ship's night. when everyone's minds drifted and slept it was easier to hear the softer beat of newly forming hearts. The murmurs of those yet to be born growing more distinct day by day. Two clear, strong heartbeats. Turning her thoughts inwards River had followed her own internal workings while Mal slept unawares. Their exertions calming her need but unable to sleep with so many thoughts cascading through her mind, so many heartbeats cradled in the reassuring thrum of Serenity's engines. So it was that she had made a discovery of her own, one that startled and froze her in shock. It had taken a conscious effort to slow down her panic and school her breathing so as not to wake her *ai ren*. Biting back a tear she had feigned sleep until the ship stirred and Mal had kissed her before going off to commence his Captainly duties.

She found Simon a couple of hours after breakfast, his hair still wet from his extended shower with Kaylee but happier than she had seen him in years. He was in the infirmary carefully cataloguing the supplies they needed. Turning as she stepped through the door the smile on his face froze at the clear signs of her distress. His heart faltering he moved towards her. "*Mei mei, shenme shi*?"

"I want you to examine me, Simon."

"Are you hurt? What happened?"

River shook her head though in one sense denial was the biggest lie. She *was* hurt but not in the way Simon imagined. This was so much worse than a physical injury. "*Bu qu*, I just need you to check me."

"Am I allowed to know what it is I'm looking for?"

Sorrow and sadness rose unbidden in her eyes. With an effort she managed to speak. "Something missing."

Her brother blinked, surely she didn't mean...? Had River had a miscarriage? But no, she and the Captain hadn't been together that long... or had they?

"No," She answered his unspoken thought. "Not a miscarriage. I need you to check it's all there." River paused as another thought tagged on to the first. "Or not."

"River, you're not making any sense."

"*Wo zhidao* just trust me, Simon."

He stared at her for a moment then nodded slowly. This was his sister, River, the most precious thing to him in the whole gorram 'verse. If she asked him to trust her he would, even though he did not have a clue what in the nine hells this was about. Not knowing what to look for he checked everything. At first it looked like he would find nothing and the concern he had been feeling began to ease then he found it. Such a small neat piece of surgery that he almost missed it. Certainly it was only with checking even more closely that he discovered what had been done. Horror made his surgeon's hands tremble. "*Wode ma*, who did this to you?"

River didn't answer. It was more an exclamation than a question. They both knew who had done it and when. The Academy it seemed had wanted to do more than play with her brain. They wanted to control her genes too. "Take it out!"

"I can't, *mei mei*. It's too dangerous."

She did not even try to control her tears. Anguish colouring her every word. "I want to have his children, Simon."

"Did Mal say...?"

"He doesn't know."

Shocked, Simon's eyes widened. "River, you have to tell him."

She shook her head. "No and you mustn't tell him."

"He has a right to know."

"I don't want to break his heart."

It was hard for Simon to think straight but one of them had to. River's sorrow was affecting him too, only his professionalism as a doctor gave him some control. "Look if Mal wants children so badly you could adopt. This doesn't have to be the end of the world, *mei mei*."

River's eyes widened. "You aren't listening! *I* want to have his children, Simon. Me not him."

Simon stared at her, not sure what to say that would not upset her further. Calming down a little, River took his hand. She so badly wanted him to understand. "I don't want it all to end when we die, Simon."

"*Wo bu dong, mei mei*. What don't you want to end?"

She smiled through her tears, trying so hard to be brave, to make him understand why this was so important to her. "This. Us."

"River," Said Simon gently. "Everyone dies, from beautiful princesses to grumpy old Captains."

"*Wo zhidao* but the genes live on. It makes us immortal, Simon. The mirror within the mirror *ad infinitum*."

He nodded, understanding now. "You have to understand my position, River. I may be able to reverse what they've done but it won't be without danger to you, this is very delicate surgery and we don't have the equipment or facilities the Alliance has. And even if the surgery is a success you might be left barren."

"I trust you, Simon."

"And the Captain, does he trust me?"

For a moment neither spoke. River smiling gently at Simon as if telling him something he should already know. "More than you think."

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*bao bei* = precious/treasure *mingliang* = bright *meili* = beautiful *xin gan*/*ai ren* = sweetheart *ni bu dong* = you don't understand *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *yiwusuoyou* = nothing *wode pengyou* = my friend *pengyou* = friend *dong ma* = understand? *fei hua* = garbage talk/nonsense *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *tian Yesu* = sweet Jesus *mei mei* = little sister *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *wo zhidao* = I know *wode ma* = mother of God *wo bu dong* = I don't understand


*ad infinitum* = without limit


Wednesday, November 30, 2005 4:01 AM


Quote: Zoe felt a horrible presentiment of doom.

Her and me both! And ouch! What a painful ending to this chapter. "I don't want it all to end when we die." *sniff*


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.