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raebird and sunbrae organized serenity_santa. I wrote a backup story for sdwolfpup, who requested gen, or Mal/Inara post-Serenity, or Wash/Zoe pre-series, and something holiday-related.

Title: Bronze Star Heart
Author: voleuse
Fandom: Firefly
Characters: Various
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Wait for love to cast the metal into bone.
Notes: Set after Serenity.

I need a woman with eyes like Rodin
To see the body caught within the stone
I'm going to take this bronze star heart
I've got I'm going to melt it down
Wait for love to cast the metal into bone

They're between planets on the New Year, so it's difficult to have any real celebrations. They make do with what they have, though, and River and Kaylee tromp through the corridors carrying a candle and a flashlight, each done up with ribbons.

Somehow, Kaylee's convinced Jayne to follow them with a paper dragon in his hands, and the only reason Mal doesn't laugh is because Inara elbows him in the ribs.

He winces, rubs his side, not because it hurts so much, but because he likes to see Inara roll her eyes. He leans against the railing and watches the procession out of the corner of his eye.

Inara's posture slowly relaxes, and when she leans on the railing, inches from him, he puts his smile carefully away.

"We probably won't be landing anywhere near the Core for a few weeks." He waits for her response, a slight tilt of her head, before he continues. "Don't expect any trouble, but that doesn't mean we should hang around with our chins out."

The moment is long and obvious, but he allows the meaning to drift.

Below them, River is teaching Jayne how to dance.

Finally, Inara sighs. "All right."

He expects her to walk away, after that.

She doesn't.

Because I'm the blue eyed son of hurricane
I'll twirl you so sweetly around
But be careful you know Atlanta
Never looked the same
After she burned to the ground
After she burned down

Simon makes his way to Zoe's quarters, medkit in hands. He pauses before ascending, catches glimpses of her as she passes back and forth by the open door.

He hasn't even stepped inside the room, but already he can feel the walls of it. It's too close, it scrabbles at his throat. He coughs.

Halfway past the door again, Zoe pauses. "Doctor?"

"Yes." He blinks, holds up his medkit. "I should, that is, I thought it would be best if I--"

Zoe steps back. "Of course. Come on up."

By the time he reaches the doorway, she's sitting on her bed, the cloth of her shirt pulled up in the back, exposing her wound.

"The stitches haven't been bothering me," she remarks, her voice slightly echoing off the far wall. "It's healing clean."

Simon nods, then remembers she isn't facing him. "Yes, well. Best to be sure." He touches the skin of her back, at first hesitant, but soon he loses himself in inspection.

The wound is healing well, though the initial patching was hasty, and there will be a scar. He rummages in his kit, swabs the wound with a salve, as a precaution.

Zoe shifts. "Is that it?"

He doffs his gloves, shuts the medkit. "Give it a minute to dry, and I think you'll be fine."

She nods, and over her shoulder, he sees a pile of Wash's shirts, carefully folded and stacked on a chair.

He averts his eyes, and tells Zoe to check back with him the next morning.

I need a woman with a heel like Achilles
So I know there's always one way I can win
Love is patient, love is kind, but let's be honest
Love is a catalogue of deadly sins

River breathes the air in Serenity, and it tastes like steel and solder and copper and tears. Dirt and rage and hope again.

She shuffles the sensations into order within her mind, but can't decide if chronology is applicable to emotion.

Nineteen feet behind her, to the left, Mal is approaching. He's thinking about fuel, thinking about new contacts, thinking about old friends.

She traces a seam in the wall beside her, and doesn't turn her head until he's eight and a half feet away.

"Captain." She nods like a professional, and he looks spooked. She tries a smile, and his thoughts are blood caking under her fingernails. "It bothers me, too."

Mal frowns. "What does?" Before she can answer, his face clears. "Oh, shore leave."

That's not it, but she realizes her misstep, so she shrugs.

"Soon as we know for certain the Alliance isn't wanting you tarred, you can probably take a step out." Mal is staying just outside her reach. They both know it's silly, though she knows it consciously. "This is a quick stop, anyhow. Fuel and emergency supplies."

There's a ripple of worry edging around her toes, and River leans towards Mal. "I can hack into their accounts," she whispers. "Get what's owed."

"Into their-- I don't think--" Mal stops, shakes his head. "I'll keep that in mind."

"I know." River smiles, and steps close to the wall, gives him clear passage. "We'll keep her flying."

She places her hand on Serenity's wall, and as he walks past, Mal copies the gesture.

I need a woman with a chin like Joe Frazier
To stand inside when I am swinging at the wind
Let's you and me take the gloves off darlin'
I'll tell you exactly where I've been

Kaylee's got her hands buried in the engine, and the whump-whoosh of the cylinders is loud. Even so, she hears Jayne clear his throat as he stands in the doorway.

She pauses, wonders whether he'll have a drink for her, or whether he'll just be twiddling his thumbs. It's been a toss-up, but he's been underfoot since Miranda, and it's usually either one of the two.

She slides out from under the engine, and he's hovering inside the doorway, a flask in his hand and a hopeful look on his face. "Hey."

"Hey." She dusts off her hands and feels a twinge of guilt, because she can guess why he's been hanging around, and because he's been hoarding that moonshine for a while.

She puts out her hand, and he gives her the flask. She swigs, quick, and it burns down, makes her gasp. She hands it back to Jayne, and he chuckles before knocking it back himself.

Then she snatches it back, caps and tosses it into the corner. Jayne protests, but she grabs his wrist and pulls him over to the engine.

"This," she says, and pries open a panel, "regulates temperature. It won't kill us if you break it, but don't."

Jayne scowls. "What?"

She picks up a pair of pliers, stares down at the hinge of it. "I don't play cards, or lift weights, like you and Book did." She sets the pliers down again. "And I don't know how to clean a gun. I fix the ship. So if you're gonna be around, you're gonna help."

She turns and looks Jayne in the eye.

He reaches around her, and picks up the pliers.

I need a woman with hands like John Henry
Hard enough to break the rocks down into sand
And when we died we'd lay down side by side
With our hammers in our hands

Inara finds Zoe in the mess, making nian gao or, at least, something like it. River is perched on a chair next to her, arranging slivers of fruit around the edges of the cake pan.

River turns her head, and smiles at Inara. "Approximation doesn't violate the spirit of the act."

And Simon enters from the other door, carrying a jar of plum preserves. "I think this will help."

Zoe holds up the bowl of batter, and Simon halts by the counter.

"Here." Inara steps forward, takes the jar from Simon. "Let me."

River hands her a spoon, and she scoops plums from jar to batter.

When she finishes, Inara smiles. "Just like home."

Zoe makes a quiet sound in the back of her throat, and Inara looks up.

Their eyes meet, and Zoe manages to smile. "Just like," she repeats.

And River says, "I want to lick the spoon."

I need a woman with a heart like Secretariat
To outrun my lonesome ways
I'm going to take this extra rib I've got
I'm going to bury it down in the dust
She does not raise

The space before him is dark, empty. Mal hums to himself, and the helm quivers under his hands, as if in answer.

The ship steers a mite different under his hands now, tends to drift a little if left unchecked. The new parts were as close to state of the art as he's ever touched himself, but Serenity's never been one for brand new. It's taking a while to get used to it.

He doesn't mind.

He leans back in his seat, takes a firm hold of the wheel.

He keeps flying, and so does she.


A/N: Title, summary, and excerpts taken from Jeffrey Foucault's "Secretariat."

Linked on serenity_santa and linked here.


( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 21st, 2006 03:28 pm (UTC)
Oh gosh I adored this, thank you! I love how it weaves together even though each of the moments is separate (much like the crew). Lovely little moments for everyone. Some of my favorite things:

- Simon and Zoe's interaction; her quiet, quiet grief
- Mal and Inara inching closer to each other
- River's precise comments on how far away Mal was; that might be my favorite moment, actually
- I hadn't even though of Jayne being at loose ends, that was a fantastic addition
- The end. Mal and his ship, and how they're flying a little differently.

I really, really loved this, thank you so much!
Jan. 28th, 2006 06:44 am (UTC)
Yay! I am thrilled you liked it!
Jan. 21st, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love this desperately. I think my favorite section is the one between Simon and Zoe, with all the things that they're trying to say. Their emotional remoteness is oddly sweet. I love the one between Kaylee and Jayne, too, with Kaylee so in control and Jayne secretly crumpling. And River wants to lick the spoon! This just all made me smile a lot, and now I want to read it again because I feel like I missed things and I want to catch them.
Jan. 28th, 2006 06:44 am (UTC)
*blushes* Thank you so much!
Jan. 21st, 2006 08:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this, you really got everything just right. Wow. And the kitchen part? Totally made me cry. *off to reread*
Jan. 28th, 2006 06:45 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!
Jan. 21st, 2006 11:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, heartbreaking, in all the right ways. I love the idea of Kaylee taking Book's place for Jayne, I love the scene in the kitchen, I love it all. Made me tear up a little bit, but then, your work often does.
Jan. 28th, 2006 06:45 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Jan. 22nd, 2006 02:00 am (UTC)
Oh, lovely. Especially Jayne, and how Kaylee knows what he needs.
Jan. 28th, 2006 06:45 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it!
Jan. 22nd, 2006 02:09 am (UTC)
This is just incredible. I loved every bit of it. Even when I tried to pick a favorite section, I couldn't manage to because every one was so great.

I especially love your River, though. She shuffles the sensations into order within her mind, but can't decide if chronology is applicable to emotion. So good! You really have captured every one of the characters so well, though.

I'm so glad I found this! Thank you so much for sharing it!
Jan. 28th, 2006 06:45 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks!
Jan. 22nd, 2006 02:22 am (UTC)
Brilliant work and merging of lyrics and story, as usual.
Jan. 28th, 2006 06:46 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Jan. 22nd, 2006 02:44 am (UTC)
One of my favorite songs, which just makes this *more* lovely.

It's beautiful. River's precise measurements of Mal's distance. Jayne and Kaylee and how she knew what he needed. Zoe's grief . . . this was all so perfect and gorgeous. Really, really nice.
Jan. 28th, 2006 06:46 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Jan. 22nd, 2006 10:21 am (UTC)
Mmmm, nice. Gave me a cozy feeling inside, and very good dialogue/characterization. River's especially really resonated with me. Nice work!
Jan. 28th, 2006 06:46 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!
Jan. 22nd, 2006 12:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, they're all so lovely. I really don't know if I can choose which I like most, because they all had something special in them. River was spot on, and, in fact, so was everyone else.

River breathes the air in Serenity, and it tastes like steel and solder and copper and tears. Dirt and rage and hope again.

I think that's perfect, and sums up really well with so few words Serenity after Wash. Lovely.
Jan. 28th, 2006 06:46 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Jan. 23rd, 2006 04:45 pm (UTC)
Lovely little glimpses into the post Serenity world. :)

The last line, especially, was just perfect.
Jan. 28th, 2006 06:47 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!
Jan. 23rd, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC)
Oh so beautiful and sad and beautiful.

::cries some more over Wash::
Jan. 28th, 2006 06:47 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Mar. 1st, 2006 12:17 am (UTC)
Geh. So sad, and perfect, and marvelous. My favorite is Zoe, both in the mess and with Wash's shirts.
Mar. 1st, 2006 11:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Mar. 14th, 2006 06:28 pm (UTC)
This was just so totally fabulous!
May. 2nd, 2006 04:27 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Mar. 7th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC)
I hadn't read this one before. Not sure how I missed it. Makes me want to cry, and yet... It's great to see the characters still alive and moving. You have a way of breathing life into things.
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( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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