Fic: Chien (Firefly; Zoe; G)

Oct 30, 2007 21:35

NaNoWriMo is almost here again! I'm participating in the madness again this year, so shall be erratically on LJ. The imminence of NaNo reminded me, though, that I have stories still sitting around that I wrote last NaNo. Some of them will probably never see the light of day, but I kind of liked this one, so parenthetical helped me dust it off and polish it up. So here it is: a little something for the Browncoats on my flist.

Title: Chien: gradual progress, growth
Fandom: Firefly
Rating: G
Genre: Gen
Pairing/Characters: Zoe, Simon, reference to Zoe/Wash
Word count: 1502 words
Disclaimer: Firefly, etc belong to Joss et al: I'm just borrowing
Beta: parenthetical rocks my world <3333
Notes/Summary: Post BDM. Zoe keeps holding on while everything changes.

This is a stand-alone story, but also forms part of my I-Ching series: fics based upon the hexagrams of the I-Ching, or book of changes. Feedback is greatly appreciated!

Chien: gradual progress, growth

Simon's the first to notice.

If Zoe had been in a position to be surprised, she would have been surprised by that, because she's never thought of Simon as the noticing type. If it had been River, well, there's not much in or out of folks' heads that that one doesn't notice, and Inara's almost as uncanny in her reading of people. But both of them remain apparently oblivious. River's busy learning how to be a girl again, and Inara's busy learning how to be -

How to be a companion, small c, the kind that Zoe had and will never have again.

That's what Zoe would be thinking, anyway, if she let herself think at all.

So: Simon's the one who notices. He says nothing, but starts piling more food on her plate at every meal, and when she visits the infirmary he doesn't stop after checking her wounds, but gives her a full workup.

'You'll need a couple of shots, and I'll give you some vitamin pills, protein bars aren't enough. Would you -?'

When she hears the rising inflection in his voice Zoe cuts him off quick. 'How many pills, doc? When should I take them?'

By her current standards she's almost babbling, but she can't let him finish the question. She glares at him like she's sighting down the barrel of a gun, and thanks whatever gods there are that he's not the kind of man Mal is, who would've only been inspired to more obstinacy by that look.

Except apparently he is, because while he doesn't finish the sentence he started, he gives her a look of his own. It's a look she's seen on his face only once or twice before, on days when River has been shivering and crying and refusing to step over the threshold of the infirmary. Zoe can't exactly interpret it, but somehow when he says, 'You'll come to me every month, at least,' the look makes her nod meekly.

Later, in her bunk, she realises she does understand the look after all. It's kin to the one Mal gets when their backs are to the wall and they've been double-crossed again and he's determined that someone will pay. Except that look usually spells death for someone, and on Simon it means just the opposite.

Zoe's gotten used to Simon's skill with knife and gunshot wounds, and the myriad other marks their life leaves on them, but she's never before realised that Simon is a doctor. He's a doctor in the way she's a soldier or Kaylee's a mechanic, a doctor the same way that Mal's a Captain through and through and will never get away from it. Simon had a whole world which was built for that, a world into which he fitted the way her pistol fits into her hand, and he packed up and left it without so much as a thought. For River. For his sister.

It's thinking of that which sends Zoe back to the infirmary every month.

After that first day, Simon never says a word about what's going on. He checks Zoe over and runs his tests, and never asks whether she has any questions or would like to see the results. His hands are always warm, though, and he talks to her as he works, a stream of calm conversation.

'You're doing well here, everything's normal. The nausea should ease off soon, you might feel some movement.'

Gradually Zoe realises he's answering all the questions she can't bring herself to voice, laying to rest worries she hasn't even let herself think about. It gets to the point where she doesn't have to not-think when she's in the infirmary: she lets her mind float and follow Simon's words while his hands move over her in something that's not a caress.

Simon never says a word to any of the crew, as far as Zoe knows, but eventually they start to notice too. Mal and Inara both try to talk to her about it. Inara tries the gentle queries and understanding smiles which have made a thousand people spill their souls to her, but Zoe gazes at her long and steady without speaking until Inara retreats gracefully. Mal is more successful, mainly because he knows better than to try the 'Are you OK?' approach. He just looks her in the eye and says, 'You got a problem with a job, you speak up. I need all my crew, you hear me, Zoe?' Like always, Zoe hears the words he doesn't say and knows that there's a place for her on the ship no matter what. Sha gua. Like she needs to be told.

Jayne, predictably, takes the longest to notice. He's not the last to mention it to her, though. It's Kaylee who spends evenings looking at Zoe out the corner of her eye, opening her mouth to speak and then backing away again. Zoe knows it's because she's not leaving any space there for Kaylee to get in - this should be a time for the patented Kaylee sunshine and joy, but it's not, and Kaylee doesn't know what to offer instead. The only one who actually does offer her anything is Jayne. He disappears when they're planetside one trip and comes back clutching a bag of tea.

'Momma always took this when she was carrying,' he mumbles, not looking Zoe in the eye. 'Says it makes you strong or some such.'

Wash always used to drive her crazy with his stories of this or that herb or food his mother thought you should take for whatever ailed you, but she smiles and thanks Jayne and takes the tea. She tells herself she can always push it in with their other supplies and forget about it. She surprises herself when she finds herself drinking it instead.

One day as he's checking her over, hands curving and pressing over her belly, Simon draws breath again after he's finished his litany of soothing medical information.

'I remember when River was born. So little, and my father took me in to see her. I was more interested in the moss growing on the windowsill; she was so screwed up and squally and red-faced. Then I saw her eyes - I see those eyes more again, these days.'

He's silent for a long time, eyes on his work. Zoe wonders if he's thinking about the years and changes that lie between that day and this.

'We were a family,' he says finally.

Zoe's never doubted that Simon loves River, but it's only now that she really understands what he's lost, what has been taken away from him and River both. Not just wealth and security and safety. They were part of a family once, and now they're brother and sister and that has to be enough.

Wash tried to tell her this once, Zoe remembers. At least, he'd raised the subject. They'd been watching Simon bend over River in the infirmary, injecting her with some kind of anti-crazy drug before smoothing the hair away from her face.

'They had parents, ever think about that?' he'd said.

'Everyone's got parents, Wash,' she'd said, and uncharacteristically he'd left it at that. Looking back, Zoe realises he was trying to talk about what she's just seen, about the family that must have fractured around Simon and River.

Wash had brought that subject up once more, when they were out laying their plans to help Nandi and her girls out of the bind they'd gotten into. She hadn't even let the words get out of his mouth; he'd hardly finished saying 'Simon and River -' before she was snapping back, 'This ain't about nobody but ourselves.'

Now Zoe thinks about the other things she'd said on that day, about being so afraid of losing something that you're afraid to try having it. She's always thought of herself as someone who has that kind of courage - the courage to risk trying for something more - but it doesn't seem so easy now she's looking at it from the other side. All the same, there's something in it. She thinks again of Simon, telling them all that River was a gift, and figures you take a gift when it's offered, whatever the risk.

Zoe's sitting up on the bridge, staring out at the stars, when the first pain comes. She's drifting through the stories in her head, picking out the constellations and thinking of the way Wash used to name them for her, and the pain comes bright across her vision, like a shooting star. It's the first sharp, real sensation that she's felt in a long time, and she breathes against the pain, flexing her strength.

Then River's there, hands on her belly, face curious and concerned. 'It's starting,' she says, and Zoe thinks she might be ready to start living again.

zoe, firefly, i-ching, serenity, fanfiction

Previous post Next post