How I Soar Chapter 22
Saturday, January 14, 2006

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


"Simon!" Mal called out, shaking his head. "We gotta talk to Simon, 'Nara, he'll know what to do."

"Mal, I -"

"No!" Mal said, standing up. "I ain't gonna accept this. No god damned way am I gonna sit here an' take it! I lost my best friend, 'Nara, I can't lose the woman I love. It ain't right. It ain't fair! Simon!"

"No," Inara agreed, the tears in her eyes spilling over and trailing down her cheeks. "It's not. I... I had accepted it. I'd come to terms with it, but damn you, Mal! You had to go and give me something to live for."

"SIMON!" Mal bellowed at the top of his lungs. "Where the hell is that dai dai gan mei yong yi sheng?"

"In bed," Inara said quietly. "With his wife. Sleeping. Mal, you're going to wake the whole ship."

Not anymore, Mal thought as he heard the door in the passenger dorm open. "Well he oughta be in here, fixin' mine, damn it."

The door to Mal's bunk clanged open. "Mal? What is it?"

"Get your scrawny ass down here," Mal said icily. "You're a god damned doctor, wei le ji du, do your job."

"He doesn't understand," Inara told Simon as he descended the ladder. "He thinks you can just make it better, but -"

"Inara Serra, you will have my children," Mal told her. "And I will see what you look like with gray hair an' wrinkles an' a grandbaby in your lap. Ain't no two ways about it. Doc, do what it is I pay you for."


"Woke us up, right in the middle o' the night," Kaylee said. "Y'all didn't hear him?"

"We heard 'im," Jayne said. "But he weren't callin' for neither of us, so we went back to... sleep."

River snorted, but continued eating her oatmeal.

"I was on the bridge all night," Wash admitted. "But I must have dozed off, because I didn't hear a peep."

Kate didn't look up from her bowl, despite the fact that she could feel every eye in the room on her. She hadn't said a word yet that morning, and Kaylee was starting to worry. She frowned, then continued with her story. "'Nara's sick, or somethin'. Simon says she's had whatever it is for a long time, years an' years, an' he ain't even sure he can treat it." Her voice broke as she told the others, "She's dyin'."

"Kaywinnit Lee Tam, ain't nobody ever told you mind your business?" Mal said, coming into the room finally. "'Nara ain't gonna die."

"Mal, it's a small ship," Inara said, following behind him. "They were going to hear about it sooner or later. Eventually my meds are going to stop working, and we don't have the money for the next treatment step."

"We'll find it," Mal said stubbornly. "We'll find the money, an' then we'll find the gorram cure, 'Nara." Mal looked at Wash, then Kate, and felt worse. They'd both felt the pain that he was feeling that very second, and he acted like he had the right to take away the little bit of happiness they'd managed to find for themselves. "Ain't that so?"

Inara sighed. She'd say it, just to make him feel better for the time being. "Yes, Mal. We'll find the cure."


"Cheer up," Inara smiled, nudging Kate with her elbow. "It's not as though you're dying."

Kate glared at her, still cleaning up after lunch. "It's not funny, Inara," she frowned. "How can you make light of this? Don't you know what Mal's going through?"

Inara's smile grew wider. "Hey, I got you to talk. Kaylee and Simon owe me three loads of laundry. Each. You're supposed to be angry with Mal, not everyone else."

"Why?" Kate asked, "for making me realize how foolish I was being?"

"Foolish?" Inara replied. "You didn't look foolish. You looked happy, for all of five minutes. See, Mal doesn't like change. That's the only real problem he has with your relationship - it's new. It's something for him to adjust to. Once he does, everything will be water under the bridge."

"Inara, I don't really care what Mal's problem with my relationship is, because I'm not in one. I was stupid to let myself think I was." Kate sighed. "How long have you known Mal?"

"A few years."

"How long have you known you were dying?"

"Kate, I don't see -"

"How long?"

"Five." Inara said quietly. She cleared her throat. "Five years."

Kate nodded. "How many hours did you and Mal waste, dancing around each other?"

Inara closed her eyes. "Kate -"

"You are a very selfish woman, Inara," Kate whispered. "I don't think you have any right to lecture me right now."

"You're right, of course," Inara agreed. "But I'm not here to lecture you. I'm just here to point out that you're being every bit as selfish as I have. Wash deserves his happiness as much as Mal does. You think on that," she said, rising. "Wash wanted to tell you himself, but he thought you'd rather talk to me than to him - we're going to be docking in about three hours. Oh, and Hannah's singing the ass song again. Kaylee's trying to bribe her with cookies, but we're afraid she's going to make herself sick before she stops singing."


"Come on," Jayne cheered. "One more an' I win!"

" - ass, ass ass go se ass! G'ram ass ass ass, ass ass -"

"Hannah? Hannah, it's okay to throw up if you need to, sweetie," Simon encouraged the small child.

"Ass ass, pi gu, ass ass ass ass. Ruttin' ass ass g'ram ass! Ass, ass ass. Dong ma?"

"Please?" Kaylee begged. "Please stop singin' that 'fore your mama kills me."

"You? It's me who's likely to end up dead," Wash frowned. "Kate likes you. Hannah, sweetie, please -"

"She stopped!" Jayne announced.

"Wait," Simon said. "Wait for it... wait for it..."

"It's stayin' down!" Jayne exclaimed. "I win! Ha! Kiss my ass, doc."

"Ass, ass ass. Ass -"

"That don't count," the mercenary declared. "She stopped an' started again. It's still good, I still win."

"Would you like another cookie, Hannah?" Simon said, with an evil grin directed at Jayne.

"Sometimes," River mused, "I wonder who the real children are. Alleyne and Derrial never behave like this."

"We're blood," Kaylee told Wash. "Well, sort of. Not really, but as good as."

"Oh, man." Jayne said, sighing. "That is completely disgustin'. Who's gonna clean that up, now, huh? See what you done, Doc?"

"It's okay, sweetie," Simon soothed, hugging the little girl. "Does your tummy feel better now?" Hannah nodded.

"Simon!" Kaylee admonished. "An' you a doctor. Leave that poor li'l girl alone. I can't believe you two! Jayne, you clean that up. Simon, get her somethin' to settle her stomach an' don't neither one of ya so much as touch another cookie, or so help me, I'll throw ya both out the airlock."

Jayne and Simon both looked suitably ashamed and did as they were told. "See?" Wash said, shaking his head. "That. I don't get that. Is it a woman thing? Because I'm thinking, so not fair if it's somehow programmed on that second X chromosome."

"Looks like I missed the party," Kate said, eying Jayne on his hands and knees cleaning up a puddle of cookie vomit. "Who won?"

"The doc did," Jayne grumbled, gagging. "Why I gotta do the cleanin', Kaylee? I'm gonna be cleanin' the ruttin' bathrooms for the next three months."

"Because she said so," Wash told him. "Ooh, hey, that sounded fairly Dad-ish."

Kate smiled, before remembering that she was angry with him. "Come on, Hannah, let's get you cleaned up and changed before we land. Inara says we're landing soon?"

Wash felt a tiny bit of hope - she forgot to be mad for a brief moment. That was good. "We're going to dock on Isis first and get fueled up, buy supplies. I was hoping maybe I could take you and Hannah for a meal someplace?" He put on his best kicked-puppy expression, the one that always worked on everyone but Mal and Zoe.

"I don't think so," Kate said. "I've got to get a lot of grocery shopping done, and I promised Simon I'd help him practice walking in heels."

"I'll come with you then," Wash said. "You're going to need some way of getting the groceries back to the ship, and guess who knows how to drive the mule?"

"Give ya a hint," Jayne said from the floor. "Ain't me, ain't Kaylee, ain't you an' sure as hell ain't li'l Hannah."

"Thank you, Jayne," Wash said flatly. He turned back to Kate. "Come on, I'm great at carrying packages, you know that. Remember Christmas shopping?"

Kate sighed. She shot Kaylee a pleading look, and Kaylee shook her head and gestured in Wash's direction. "Fine," Kate sighed.

"Yes!" Wash cheered. "And while we're out shopping, I'm going to have to get my daughter and her mother something to eat."

Kate sighed again. "Don't you get sick of getting your way all the time?" She asked, half seriously. It was absolutely infuriating how she could never manage to stay mad at him for half as long as she wanted to.

"Nope," he grinned. "Next I'm gonna make you kiss me again, whether you like it or not. But for now, I have pilot-y things to do."


"I... have no clue what I'm looking for," Simon admitted. "Inara, are you sure this was a legitimate diagnosis?"

Inara shot Simon a look. "You're not seriously suggesting that my doctors made up a terminal illness, are you?"

Simon looked thoughtful. "I suppose not. Still, it merits consideration. I can't find anything on the Cortex regarding Foster's disease. Well, that's not entirely true. I found a skin condition with the same name, but it's not terminal, just a pigmentation anomaly."

"If I give you a vial of my meds, can you do a chemical analysis?" Inara asked, suspicious.

"I don't have the best equipment, but I can try," Simon replied. "Why?"

"I'm suddenly very distrusting of the Guild's physicians," she frowned. "I want to believe they wouldn't tell me I was dying if I really wasn't, but I'm starting to think that may be the case."

Simon nodded. "I wouldn't say anything to Mal until we're sure," he told her. "It would be cruel to get his hopes up for nothing."

The Mandarin: dai dai gan mei yong yi sheng - stupid f***ing useless doctor wei le ji du - for the sake of Christ


Saturday, January 14, 2006 5:50 AM


Ooh, ooh, goody! The evil Guild lied to her. Has the concept of "getting a second opinion" died off in 500 years? They based an entire movie off this idea!

Saturday, January 14, 2006 4:38 PM


Oh MY f'n GOD! Please let the guild be evil PLEASE! let ie be extra EVIL... please let her not die... it just wouldn't be fair.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 8:44 AM


"But for now, I have pilot-y things to do."
but are they as important as those captain-y things? and YAY!!! 'nara's not dying!!! i hope...


Saturday, January 21, 2006 7:59 AM


Pilot-y things and captain-y things are very similar, and both very important, however they can both be done with one hand holding a sandwich, usually. Except for the "oh god, oh god, we're all going to die" bits.


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