How I Soar Chapter 15
Thursday, December 29, 2005

An AU in which Zoe sacrifices her life for Wash... and he must learn to move on.


"Okay," Kaylee grinned, pouring herself another mug of hot spiced cider. "Simon's back, y'all can start gettin' yerselves shitfaced again." Simon accepted a cup of egg nog from her as he sat down.

"Kaylee," Mal said, mildly shocked. "I ain't used to hearin' that language outta you."

River made a very serious face. "Our little girl is growing up, pa," she said, nearly managing to keep a straight face.

"I've heard worse outta you, lately," Mal grumbled. "What is with the women on this ship? Y'all been listenin' to Jayne too much?" He drained his cup of egg nog, and, feeling his head spin, decided to wait a few minutes before helping himself to another.

"Yeah, Mal," Jayne said, "I been holdin' lessons on how to swear like a sailor in the cargo hold every other Thursday. Somebody wanna fill me up?" He offered his empty mug, and Kate took it and filled it with egg nog. She got herself and Wash each a cup as well.

Taking a sip, she commented, "Wow, this is strong." She flushed a little, remembering how much rum she'd added and hoping Kaylee wouldn't figure her out.

"You're not wrong," Wash sputtered, nearly choking on the large gulp he'd attempted. "Good show, Kaylee."

Kaylee blinked. "I made it strong 'cause I know y'all complain when I don't, but it shouldn't oughta be that bad." She narrowed her eyes. "Who spiked it?"

Kate, Mal and Jayne all found something on the floor very interesting, all of a sudden.

"Cap'n!" Kaylee laughed. "You?"

"I figured it needed a little extra holiday cheer," he offered weakly.

"Jayne started it," River tattled, covering her mouth instantly. The words had slipped out without her meaning to say them. "I told him don't eat, but I didn't say don't taste, don't meddle. He meddled."

Kate's face was burning, though she couldn't tell how much of it was guilt and how much was drink. "I might have, er, Irished it up a little myself," she said, louder than she'd intended.

"Kate!" Kaylee giggled. "You know how much rum is in Granny's original recipe, don'tcha?"

Kate grinned. "You never follow that part of the recipe, you're always worried someone'll have too much." Which is exactly what happened, she realized.

"This egg nog... 's good," Mal muttered. "Eggy an' noggy, an' rummy..."

"My thongue feelth funny," River said, sticking out said tongue and probing it with a questioning finger.

"I'm hot," Kate announced, peeling off her shirt. "Is anyone else hot?" Wash gulped; Kate wasn't exactly wearing a lot anymore, just her bra and a pair of jeans.

"Baking," he said hoarsely. He cleared his throat and took another sip of egg nog.

"That's a lovely brassiere," Inara said politely. "Where did you get it?" She spilled egg nog down the front of herself and started giggling uncontrollably.

"I'm gonna pee myself," Kaylee laughed harder. "Y'all hadda mess with my granny's recipe."

"'S nuthin' wrong with a li'l..." Simon trailed off, looking for all the world like he'd fallen asleep with his eyes open.

"Jayne!" Kate shrieked with laughter. "Jayne! Pudding! Jayne sat! Pudding!"

Wash snorted. "Jayne sat on the pudding?"

"'S comfy," Jayne said. He reached down to wipe some of the ruined figgy pudding from the seat of his pants, and tasted it. "'S tasty, too."

"I'm still really hot," Kate sighed. "Is anyone else hot?" Mal looked very concerned, because Inara and River both seemed keen on the idea.

"It is hot," Inara agreed, studying her clothes to see what she could remove to cool herself off. River pulled the neckline of her shirt away from her body, and Mal's hands itched, waiting to see which of the two he'd have to throw the tablecloth over first.

"I'm burning alive," Kate fussed. "I just want to take off my -"

"Enough of that!" Mal said, horrified. He looked over and realized that Jayne was nibbling River's neck, and judging by the moans she was making, that was something best taken to his bunk. "River, why don't you see Jayne safe to his bed?" Mal suggested, even though his own mind was clouded with drink. "We're all gonna call it a night."

"Aww," Kaylee giggled. "An' just when you was all startin' to get real fun." She stood up. "C'mon, Simon, wakey wakey."

"Yeah," Inara snickered. "You gotta get up to go to bed, Simon."

"Okay, li'l lady, let's you an' me get a move on," Mal said, pulling Inara up from her seat by her hand and corralling her towards her shuttle. "Ah, screw it," he said. "My bunk's closer an' I can't gorram see straight."

"You're not drunk," Kate accused Wash. He looked around the common area and realized they were alone.

"I am," he said defensively. "But someone had to be conscious enough to remember to put out the S-A-N-T-A gifts before we all went to sleep."

"You should do that," Kate smiled. "'Cause I'm gonna go be naked, if anyone's interested."

"Shiny. But, if you help me, we can get this done twice as fast," he suggested.

"You'd think so," Kate said in a low, sultry voice. She put her arms around his neck and started doing sinful things to his earlobe.

Mother of god. "Kate, as much as I - uhh. That's nice. I mean, Hannah -" Wash said, trying to push her away. "Hannah will be heartbroken if she wakes up and - oh, do that again."

Kate laced her fingers through Wash's unruly hair and dragged his lips to hers. "I'll be in my quarters," she whispered, and left him to his Santa duties.


"I got all the presents out from the hiding spots," Wash said as he walked into Kate's bedroom. "Kate?" Apparantly she hadn't gotten as far as the naked, because she was sound asleep, fully dressed - well, save for her shirt, which he'd forgotten to retrieve from the common room - on top of the covers. Wash sighed, laughed, and shook his head. He grabbed a spare blanket to cover her with, and lay down behind her, covering them both. "Goodnight," he whispered. "Merry Christmas." Wash pulled Kate into his arms and fell asleep.


"Mama! Dada! Santa! Santa!" Hannah was shrieking delightedly. Xue was dangling awkwardly under her chubby arm, purring like mad.

"Is there a volume control on that cat? I know there isn't one on the child. " Kate muttered, wiping the sleep from her eyes. "Ugh, my head."

Wash moaned. "There isn't enough aspirin in the 'verse..."

"Now! Hannah want! Now!" Their hangovers would have to wait, because there was a very exhuberant toddler who wasn't going anywhere unless they came out to see the presents with her.

"Go wake your aunts and uncles," Wash suggested. "What time is it?"

"Three thirty," Kate groaned.

"In the morning? We just went to bed an hour ago," he sighed. "It's a good thing you did fall asleep, because I don't think I'd have been done with you by now, and we wouldn't want to traumatize Hannah."

Kate grinned. "Guess we'll have to take a rain check, then, huh?"

"Count on it."


"Kaylee, you're a genius," Mal said gratefully as she handed each of the adults a cup of egg nog.

"Hair of the dog," she shrugged, smiling.

"Sugar cookies with frosting are not breakfast," Kate said firmly.

"Come on," Simon grinned. "This one's got a cherry on it, and cherries are fruit. Here, you can have the healthy one."

Kaylee laughed at the look her cousin was giving her husband. "Katie, he's a doctor," she said, with mock seriousness.

"A doctor who's trying to feed my daughter cookies for breakfast," Kate sighed. "Oh, well, it's only Christmas once a year."

Simon cheered, handing a cookie that was more icing than cookie to Hannah. "We won," he told her. "Junk for Christmas breakfast is a Tam family tradition, and you're part of our family now, too."

"Pretty," Hannah replied, licking at the icing contentedly. Xue was playing with the funny bow on the bulky, awkwardly wrapped gift Jayne had put under the tree for Hannah. "Presents?"

"After you finish your - what am I saying? Have at it," Kate laughed. She leaned against Wash, who was chuckling softly.

"She's going for the big ugly one first, you know," he told her.

"I know."

"That's mine," Jayne said proudly as the little girl tore at the paper.

"Mama," Hannah said with amazement, petting the furry lining and rocking the cradle experimentally. "Whazzat?"

Kate laughed. "Ask Uncle Jayne," she said. "He made it for you all by himself."

"'S a cradle for yer li'l doll," Jayne said, blushing a little. "Or yer kitten, if ya can get it to sit still." Hannah put her hands up, waiting for Jayne to pick her up. When he did, she kissed his nose.

"Tank you," she said solemnly.

The day they'd spent weeks getting ready for was over in a few short hours. Hannah made out like a bandit and was sleeping off the excitement, having finished feeding her kitten with its bottle. River had given her a new baby doll, which was currently napping in the cradle Jayne had made. Mal had forgotten the kitten was supposed to be from Santa, so he ended up giving her a big shiny coin, which her mother told her had to be put away and saved. Kaylee had got her some pretty hair clips and a pair of new shoes to go with her pretty new dress from Inara. It was pink and yellow and made her look like a little flower. Simon got her a few books - mostly faerie tales, but some that were just limericks and fluff. Wash had spent so much time helping Kate with the Santa gifts that he'd more or less forgotten, he realized with horror.

"Relax," Kate smiled when she saw him quietly freaking out. "Your name's on the tags with mine."

"You. You are a brilliant woman," he sighed, relieved. "How could I forget?"

Kate looked at the heap of gifts "Santa" had left, and looked back at him. "Gee, I can't imagine what might have been preoccupying your mind."

"You didn't forget," he pointed out.

"Not my first Christmas playing dual roles," she shrugged. "Granted Hannah was really too little to notice last year, and it was a small Christmas besides, with Michael being gone and us moving in with my brother..."

"Have I mentioned lately my dislike for this man I've never met?" Wash asked. "Because really? I'm not a violent man, but he really makes me want to be. Who throws their sister and her kid out on the street?"

"I'm glad he did," Kate replied, and Wash, who'd been preparing to launch into a tirade, shut his mouth and smiled.

"Me, too."

Kate was silent for a while. "I, um, I got you something." She'd gotten everyone a little something; in most cases it was ingredients for goodies and a promise of whatever their favorite food was, though she'd given Kaylee and Simon some baby things. Things that'd been Hannah's, and Michael's before, and back into Kaylee's family tree.

"You already gave me my present," Wash said, indicating the jar of what looked like trail mix but would soon be oatmeal raisin cookies.

Kate shook her head. "This... I didn't know if it would be appropriate, but Kaylee said you used to - and they're not there anymore, I guess since..." she stopped. "Forget it, it was stupid." She handed him the box anyway. "I just - don't be angry."

Wash opened the small box to find two plastic dinosaurs. "How did you -?"

"Kaylee told me you used to collect them," Kate sighed. "She said you used to keep them on the dash, but then Zoe, and I guess you never - they're antiques."

Wash hadn't put his dinosaurs back up on the console after Zoe had been killed there. It wasn't that he didn't want to, it was just that they'd been swept away in the clean-up and he hadn't seen them again. "They're great," he said, smiling up at her. "Really."

Kate grinned. "You like them? Hannah helped me pick them out. They're supposedly from Earth-that-was, but I think the shopkeeper was blowing smoke, because they're in really good condition."

"I got you something, too," Wash interrupted, amused. "It's, uh, it's not anything useful. It's not really something you need. But, I figure, you're a mom, you deserve something that's frivolous and not needed once in a while, right?" He went over to the tree and pulled out a package wrapped in purple paper.

Kate opened the box and looked confused. She looked up at him, questioningly.

"Inara helped me pick them out," Wash explained. "There's scented soap, shampoo, girly things like that. There's some make-up. Not that you need it, 'cause you don't," he said quickly. His experience with women, limited as it was, told him never to suggest any woman was less than perfect, even if she asked for the truth. "Thought it'd be nice to have."

"Come in handy, too," Mal smirked. "Our next job, she's gonna need to paint herself up real pretty."

"What?" Kate asked, mildly insulted.

"Y'all are. You, River, 'Nara, even Kaylee if she can squeeze her baby bump into the get-up." Mal grinned. "We're goin' to New Vegas."


Thursday, December 29, 2005 7:48 PM


This is a great series keep up the great job.

Thursday, December 29, 2005 8:13 PM


I don't even know where to start! I love it!!

Friday, December 30, 2005 8:49 AM


Five more?

Saturday, December 31, 2005 10:04 AM


"'Cause I'm gonna go be naked, if anyone's interested."

Oh Kate, that got me LAUGHING! And LMAO at the extra strong nog!

Wednesday, January 4, 2006 11:09 AM


"Okay. Simon's back, y'all can start gettin' yerselves shitfaced again."

one of kaylee's better instructions...



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