EGLANTINE ROSE

Zoe’s pregnancy is established in the comic book sequels to the BDM, particularly Float Out.

________________________________________________________________Zoe, always quiet, always calm. had over the past week become tensely silent, her gaze a thousand yard stare.
Kaylee was the first to notice that she had stopped eating, taking only small portions from the common dishes at supper and just pushing those around her plate. Nor had Kaylee seen her eat at any other time, although the crew rarely ate any meal but dinner together. She asked Simon if Zoe had asked for any anti-nausea meds for morning sickness, but he had not given her anything.
Mal had seen this in Zoe before- but not since she had married Wash. If Zoe had had any episodes during her marriage, Wash had helped her through them. But now the First Mate was a widow, a pregnant widow, and Mal was thinking it was his duty once again to see her through.
And he knew the closeness and comfort they had shared in the past would face a barrier. Kaylee. And Mal’s so recently renewed intimacy with Kaylee.
Could Kaylee, so young and optimistic, understand that the comfort  he and Zoe shared when the terrors came was not a challenge to her?
Mal and Kaylee were in his bunk, sipping tea and enjoying some quiet time together.
“Zoe is hurtin.”
“She does seem down. Simon says she must eat if only for the baby.” Kaylee never had any problem with food. Her sensuality covered all the pleasures of the flesh.
“It’s the war  again. Both of us deal with that aftermath every day. We stayed friends after, partly because we each knew what the other did. Then Wash took over from me. I really think he helped her more than I could..
“But I guess, it’s back to me again.”
‘Well, o’course. Goes without sayin really.”
“Yeah. I’d be with her now- mebbe even days ago, but  ,well, I wanted to be sure you understood that Zoe and me, it’s real close, real intimate.. but it’s not like us, you’n me. Just…it’s different.”
“Zoe ain’t me. I ain’t Zoe. O’course it’s different.”
” No. I mean. We never told Wash, denied it even. Lied to him. We said we’d never been lovers. And I don’t think that was untrue. But we’ve used each other for comfortin, more often that we could count probably, durin the war and after.
“And Kaylee, darlin, I won’t apologize for that. Not for the sex and not for the lies. But I don’t ever want to lie to you.”
“Oh,”
“So if I go to Zoe and help her through this, comfort her, let her see that the past is another country and that she has a future, even a bright future, will you accept that?”
“Oh.”
“I’m not askin permission to cheat on you or to chase some cheap skirt. I respect and care for your more than anyone I’ve ever known. Never want to hurt you.”
Kaylee began to realize why Mal had been so reluctant to act on his attraction to her. Calling himself an “old man” and a “lecherous hump” . She knew he was a good decade older than her and that those years included losing a vicious war, his family, his home, leading a criminal life, arrests. He carried more wounds than those she could see on his body.
“Why did you tell Wash you had never been lovers?”
“Because we’re  not. Sometime we need the closeness, breathin the same air.”
He reached an arm around Kaylee and pulled her into his shoulder.
“Bein with you … you keep all those demons away from me. And Wash did for Zoe.  Mebbe it’s more intimate than bein lovers. It’s a lot more intimate than ruttin.”
“Yeah. I guess. The boys back home– that was just fun. And with Simon-even before he decided that he really leaned more to men– I think– don’t get a big head or nuthin- but going with you had kinda spoiled any chance of findin anythin deep with him. Just wasn’t there.”
Mal marvelled again at the depth of wisdom this young uneducated Rim girl brought. Her joy in life was an artesian well that drew from the deepest heart of her.
“It’s post traumatic stress disorder in the books. Shows different ways. Zoe shuts down. I get angry and make stupid plans. She gets cold and mechanical. When we’re not bad off, it can work well. Worked real well when we bought Serenity. I was tryin to escape hearin what happened to m family on Shadow. Zoe saw that with the reparation money and her family background on smugglin ships we could make a living and still fight the purple bellies. The plan was all hers, so it was a good one. It was all her that started the business. I guess I own Serenity, and getting her runnin was my project , but it was Zoe who had contacts, found a ship through her brother Alcibides, knew Badger, or at least knew the guy Badger took out– got our first jobs.
“And when there was just us two, durin the war and the pow camp and settin up the business we were as tight as any two people could be– but somehow– and Zoe is a very fine woman- there was never that sex buzz. For us just not there…”
“How do you want us to be , Malcolm? Are we building something? Or are we just having a little fun now and then?
“Because I can do either, y’know? But if I do find somethin serious, I think I’m like Zoe. One woman, one man. No freebies. I want my babies to know who their daddy is and for him to be raisin them by my side.”
“I hate seein Zoe hurtin. And I know I’ve helped her foretimes.”
“This might be a different hurt, Mal. Not the war. Wash.  Are you sure that what you offer is what she needs now?”

“Dunno. Maybe, mayhap.”
“Or not…We could try another way. Nara’s trainin…. she knows a lot about how people tick. She’s told me some of her clients have right strange problems… nothin too specific, eh? but may hap she could talk to Zoe first.”

Inara’s training includes a lot of practical psychology. If she debuted at 18 then she started her career just as the war ended. MB was 23 at the time of the series although Inara was somewhat older. (Let’s ignore the theory that she was much much older and possibly even immortal). I would assume that a Companion would get advanced training in dealing with PTSD in a post-war society.

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About femmefan1946

Retired professional writer and editor. Nominated for an Aurora Award for work on CAN-CON 2014, which concentrates on introducing new and aspiring writers and artists to agents, editors and publishers.
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