Categories > TV > Firefly
Five things that never happened to Serenity's crew. Warnings: AU, character death
Somehow, after Mal died, it was Inara who ended up giving the orders on the ship. She came back from a client to find Zoe and Jayne fighting while Kaylee cried and Simon tried to stop River from screaming. Wash followed her orders to leave, immediately, and somehow it didn't stop there. She let Zoe manage the thieving, used her high society influence over the middle men and took them wherever the jobs were, even those places Mal wouldn't.
She expected more fuss from Jayne, but he accepted the change with a grunt once he and Zoe stopped shouting. One night planetside, when he came back to the ship fall down drunk, she asked him why he didn't leave when Mal died and he told her, once she'd picked apart his slurred speech, that he figured the crew needed him now more than ever. Inara couldn't deny that, though she did suspect that the Shepherd had more to do with curbing Jayne's behavior than anything.
She stopped thinking about leaving and started thinking about Kaylee and River and money and fuel. One day followed the next and suddenly Zoe was calling her Captain. It wasn't ever right, but she figured it was as close as they could come without him.
When Kaylee died, Mal didn't waste time throwing the doctor out of the airlock. He couldn't quite bring himself to space the girl, but Inara left anyway, the moment they touched down planetside again. Zoe stayed because he was Captain, even if all she had for him now was a hard look and a cold voice, and Wash stayed for Zoe, but they fought more than they talked and he didn't hear neither one of them laugh no more. He took the Shepherd back to Persephone where the man pressed his dogeared bible into Mal's hands and led the girl into the world, all wide eyed and wisp-like. That was fine with Mal; he couldn't sleep when she stepped around Serenity like a ghost. When they were in the sky again, his ship was full of four people who didn't know where to go and when Jayne sold him out two months later, Mal figured he probably deserved it.
“River's not on the ship. They didn't want her here, but she couldn't make herself leave. So she melted. Melted away. They didn't know she could do that, but she did.”
-- Objects in Space
Jorah Eisley bought his ship at half the going price on account of it being haunted. Some girl spirit, the seller said, liked to play with the coms. Jorah didn't mind ghosts. He liked the look of her, even after he heard she was Reaver leavings, though the man who brought her in said he'd never seen Reavers kill like that, with blood dripping out their eyes.
About a week out of port his pilot told him he'd heard footsteps in the night, when all the ship was quiet. His pilot was space brained on a good day, but he checked all the hideyholes anyhow, just in case. When his cook said he'd found his best knives out on the counter when he knew they'd been stowed and a recipe in his cookbook he'd never seen before, Jorah admitted to being a touch disturbed. Recipe's couldn't harm a man, but wayward knives certainly could.
He heard it himself a month and a half later, when he spelled his pilot at the helm one night-- a young girl's laughter coming through tinny and crackled on the com. Jorah could see her clear as day in his mind, black hair and dreamy eyes, twirling down the corridors barefoot.
He heard her more often after that. On night she was whispering myths of Earth That Was, the next she told him that human blood boiled at 103 degrees centigrade. Jorah laughed and tried not to think about how his ship was more than a little crazy.
Simon carried River onto the ship like an overgrown baby, one arm under her legs, one at her shoulders so her head rolled back with her hands trailing near his knees, and when he didn't put her down they knew she was dead. In the end it took Jayne's intimidating bulk to take her from him and carry her, gentle like Mal had never seen, into the infirmary and Inara to slip a sedative into Simon's drink so that he slept for two days. At dinner that night, Jayne said it'd be easier now with her dead and Kaylee punched him so hard she broke his nose.
The very next job, Simon walked himself into the middle of a gunfight and died before he hit the dirt, three gaping holes in his chest. Kaylee barely ran the ship after that and Mal knew Shepherd wouldn't last long with two seats vacant at the dinner table. After that, it seemed to Mal they ran on heat and flame: fierce for a time, but not long in the world.
Wash stopped sitting the helm on the long nights without Simon or River drifting in and out, so Mal let him take what comfort he could with his wife while he spent the empty hours watching the stars and wondering of there was anywhere in the 'Verse where they would all be safe.
After the Alliance finally let her walk free again, Zoe didn't waste any time shipping out with the Firefly vessel Unity. The Captain was a fat man, watery-eyed and Alliance friendly, but he offered a ship and a decent wage at honest work and Zoe wanted out as quick as she could. She learned to live with it: the Alliance sympathies, the mechanic that kept Unity grounded as often as she was in the sky, the pilots who never seemed to last more than one or two months. Somehow, she kept the Captain from killing them all too soon.
She saw Mal once, on a border moon about to be swatted by an Alliance patrol. Zoe watched him stand firm and straight with his chin up, even though he had no one at his back, and wondered what it would be like if she were under his command again.