blue flamingos

Crew Manifest

Fandom: Firefly

Category/Rated: Various

Year/Length: 2007/ ~2108 words

Pairing: Zoe/various

Spoilers: Post-Serenity The Movie, spoilers for the series and the movie

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: A lot of people didn't see it, but Zoë had a family, right there.

Author's Notes: Prompt: Zoe/author's choice, domesticity/intentional family, 'More I think about it, sir, not sure I ever had any you *did* approve of'.

Beta: beta'd by [info]lady_anemone

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.

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Captain Malcolm Reynolds:

They were rounded up on Hera by the Alliance ships, under orders from Command not to fight or try to run. Not that they could have run anyway, crushed by defeat and trapped without their own ships to pick them up.

She only knew they'd left Hera from overhearing one of the guards; they were held, dozens of defeated Independents, in the belly of the ship, no windows, no privacy and nothing to do but wait. It was almost like a reunion, familiar faces scattered around, except no one was in the mood for greetings, or for anything much beyond eating the protein cubes the Alliance provided, and occasionally speculating on what would happen to them.

Zoë stayed with Sergeant Reynolds – Mal, now, maybe – and didn't ask what he thought would happen next, whether the rumors they were being exiled out beyond the Rim might be true. She didn't need to ask what had happened to the cross she'd never seen him take off; a casualty of war, like the luck charm she'd carried until she watched her squad get shot down around her and decided she didn't want to be lucky any more.

They were escorted from the ship onto a planet Zoë never learned the name of, to be held, five to a cell, for six weeks, while they were processed: photographed, finger printed, DNA-tagged, stripped of whatever assets they'd managed to hold onto and, if the Alliance officers were impatient that day, accused of crimes against the Alliance.

Zoë's luck held, and she was grateful for it, this time, finally free after being transported to yet another world, this one on the Rim, poor and dusty and maybe home, still with Mal because she'd somehow never left him.

She mocked his ship, when he showed it to her, but she painted Serenity on the side without comment, making it clear that neither of them would leave.

+ Hoban Washburne:

Nobody knew it but them, and in the end, only she knows, and wishes she'd told someone else, but Wash never asked Zoë to marry him.

She wasn't a believer in tradition – nor in marriage, really, when they knew they'd be together for life and there wasn't anyone to care about rings – and she knew what Wash was working up to saying. She'd seen the rings and the papers, and pretended she hadn't, just mentioned, in passing, that if a wedding was important to him, she wasn't averse to putting on good clothes and going along, but she got impatient, one night, coming down with Wash's arm round her waist, sticky and sated.

"So, honey. This wedding you're planning, I assume I'm to be invited at some point?" She waited. "Or is this how you're telling me you've found someone new?"

She said it as a joke, knew he heard it the same way, but he kissed her shoulder and it was a relief.

"Never," he said firmly.

"Good."

A while later, distracted, Wash added, "And I already bought your dress."

- Kaywinnit Lee Frye:

Kaylee missed her home world more than she wanted them to know, once she got over the excitement of being in space, and Zoë pretended she didn't see, because what was she to do about it? Kaylee made her choice and it wasn't Zoë's place to fix it if she'd made the wrong one. Wash did that for her, anyway, the two of them up on the bridge together, talking away about engines while her and the Captain figured out how they'd get the money to keep Serenity in the air; the Captain had some interesting ideas, and some *interesting* ideas.

Amongst all that, they picked up crate after crate of dried fruit for a two day trip between worlds; Kaylee, it turned out, liked sweet things. She knew better than to tamper with the cargo, but she looked longingly at it while they packed it away, fingers twitching towards the boxes.

That was what made Zoë approach her, when they landed on Red Rock, and offer to take her into town, to a place she knew of. That, and wanting to keep away from Wash, who was still pursuing her and who she knew she was going to say yes to, soon.

Kaylee loved the cake shop, like Zoë'd known she would, peering into the glass cases and smiling at the boy behind the counter as she picked out cakes, Zoë in the corner with her tea, never taking her eyes off her. Oddly, it wasn't hard to smile – pleasant, and just a little threatening – when the overly paranoid guards asked why she'd brought a stranger to their world, and claim Kaylee as family; it wasn't hard to tell the Captain, when he asked if she'd risked Kaylee's safety there for sweets, that she'd looked after her, always would. They're not just your crew, she wanted to tell him. I've seen you try to fix the engine.

And in the end, it wasn't hard at all to do that, not even when Kaylee was homesick.

+ Jayne Cobb:

She's never exactly sure when Jayne stops being the mercenary they hired so he wouldn't kill them, and starts being part of the crew; she's never actually entirely sure he does. Doesn't matter, in the end, when Wash is gone and she figures they're all going to be joining him, trying to do what she fought to do years ago. It's her and Jayne between the Reavers and the Captain, the Reavers and the crew, and Zoë fought in a war, knows all about bonds forged in blood and battle.

Kaylee reaches for her hand, when the door opens and River's there; Simon checks her wound, over and over, and the Captain pats her on the shoulder, leaving bloody fingerprints behind. Jayne looks at her, over the bodies and nods, waits for Zoë to nod back before turning away. It's easier, after that, to tell him the plan and trust to him doing his part; maybe the one thing that *is* easier, and Zoë clings onto it, some days.

It's probably the only time the Captain took to someone before she did, accepted them in his crew before she did, and she doesn't want to think too much about what that means.

- Inara Serra:

"Zoë," Inara said, when she found Zoë in the infirmary attempting to re-bandage a long, shallow knife wound that ran from shoulder to wrist on her left arm. "I have a cream in my shuttle that will help that to heal."

This was three weeks after Inara joined the ship, five or six days after she started joining the at meals, when the Companion was still different and a little exotic, before she and the Captain realized what the rest of the crew already knew, and things got awkward. Before Zoë started sleeping with Wash, even though she knew by then that she was going to.

"Thanks." Zoë followed Inara to her shuttle, settled into the comfortable couch and watched her unpack the contents of a medium sized wooden box, colored silk catching in the candle-light, something out of the old films she'd sometimes watched as a kid, out of place in the black.

"It's part of every Companion's first aid kit," she explained, sitting next to Zoë and smoothing the cool cream along the cut, already starting to heal over. "It wouldn't do for us to be scarred."

"I suppose not," Zoë agreed. The cream smelt of an almost-familiar herb, and Inara's hair brushed her bare shoulder as she leaned forward. "I can't afford your rates," she said, when Inara closed the jar and kissed her.

Inara smiled, smooth and a little sad. "I already told your Captain, I won't service his crew." She kissed Zoë again, soft lips and gentle hands, mindful of her bruises. Zoë hadn't kissed a woman since the war, but it wasn't hard to let herself fall into it. "I want you," Inara said simply, unfastening the buttons of her dress. "Tonight."

"All right," Zoë said, and they fell back into the soft cushions, kissing.

She made sure the Captain never found out about that; she was sure Inara did the same.

+ Shepherd Derrail Book:

Zoë could make soup, and bread if they had the ingredients, but that was the limit of her cooking abilities. They ate a lot of rice when it was her turn in the kitchen, and a lot of the tasteless protein bars they kept for when food sometimes got low.

Shepherd Book found her on her second night of kitchen duty since he'd arrived, as she was measuring rice while waiting for the pot of water to boil, and handed over a small hessian bag.

"Thank you," she said, tipping the contents onto the counter. She recognized zucchini in one of the packets, and some herbs, but the rest were unfamiliar.

Shepherd smiled, and took a knife from the drawer. "You watch the rice doesn't boil dry," he said, rolling up his sleeves. "Let me take care of the rest. It's the least I can do."

The Captain glared when she admitted Shepherd Book was mostly responsible for the food, and for the kitchen not being filled with smoke, but Zoë ignored him, grateful for her assistant.

+ Simon Tam:

Simon came to her the night before they went to Ariel, claiming he was checking he'd given her everything she needed.

"Doc," Zoë said, when it didn't seem like he was going to stop talking about needing to look the part without her help. "You want to tell me what's really on your mind?"

Simon shuffled his feet, looked down, looked at the cups Zoë had just poured tea into, and finally said, "Will you – it's not that I don't trust Jayne and the Captain – I'm sure nothing will happen –"

Zoë put a hand on his arm. "I'll keep an eye out for both of you," she promised, then, when he opened his mouth again, "I'll keep a special eye out for your sister. Nothing will happen to her if I can help it." Not that she expected to be able to help it; River was a law all to herself.

"Thank you," Simon said sincerely. "I appreciate that."

"Glad to hear it," Zoë told him. "Now, if you don't mind, my husband's waiting for me."

"Of course," Simon said.

Zoë pretty much held to her promise, when and as well as she could. River wasn't easy to keep an eye out for, though, any more than her brother was.

+ River Tam:

Zoë waits until her eyes will hardly stay open before going to her bunk. She's still thinking to change – Kaylee has offered, twice – but she can't do it yet.

It takes her actually looking at the bed, stripped to her vest and bare foot, to realize she isn't alone, that River's curled in the middle of the bed like a cat, her eyes wide open, watching Zoë as she stands frozen with her hand on her belt buckle.

"Does Simon know you're here?" she asks finally. She's inclined to send River back to her brother, keep her solitude, but there's something... She sits on the edge of the bed, and strokes River's hair from her face. "River, honey? Did you tell Simon you were coming here?"

"Not my keeper," River says, pulling a face, suddenly childlike. Zoë hopes she hasn't come to offer the same kind of comfort Inara has. "Not playing like Kaylee."

"Simon?" Zoë asks. River's gotten a lot more coherent since Miranda, but it doesn't seem she'll ever completely lose her inclination to talk in riddles; it makes for some interesting meals, and gets them through more than a few moments when Zoë has to fight the urge to get up and leave. She has no intention of becoming a quitter now; it counts for more when it'd harder.

River glares at her, the way she had in the bank on Lilac. "River doesn't play like Simon and Kaylee." She sits up smoothly and lays her head on Zoë's shoulder, her body relaxing a little when Zoë puts her arms round the girl. "All the lost people," River says quietly. "Everybody gone."

"Not quite everybody." Zoë smoothes one hand over River's hair, the way she had with her baby sister, years ago. It seems to be what River wants.

"No." River lays her hand on Zoë's stomach, barely noticeable through her clothes, and Zoë doesn't flinch. "Not everybody."


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