The Children of Shadow (formerly You Can Never Go Home Again), Ch. 1
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Post BMD. The crew heads out to Beaumonde to find work, and Mal meets someone he never thought he'd see again. Pairings: mostly Mal/Inara, some Simon/Kaylee


Hello all,

I wanted to post this a week ago, but final exams got in the way. Chapter 2 will probably come some time next week. (What? I have my Christmas shopping done.)

Also, I changed the name of this fic from "You Can Never Go Home Again" to "The Children of Shadow" because I didn't want to confuse any fans of ReginaRoadie's story of the similar name. There is a prologue with the old title. Btw, if anyone knows how to link chapters, can you please let me know? Thanks.

Obligatory Legal Note: This 'verse isn't mine, it's Joss's. But, this story is my way of telling certain TV executives how I feel about canceling the show. *sends angry thoughts in their general direction*

Its up to you to leave a comment.

Please enjoy, Phyre


Chapter 1: New Beginnings

Several hours after BDM ends… Mal rubbed at an itchy scab on his forehead, careful not to scratch it off and cause it to bleed while he was on the cortex. “I am sorry to tell you this myself, but Fanty and Mingo have been murdered,” said Fang Ming Yue, one of Mal’s old battle buddies who now lived on Beaumonde and works as a grocery merchant. “Rumor says they were stabbed to death by a knife.” “Or a sword,” said Mal. “You know something about this?” asked the man on the screen. Mal shook his head no. “It doesn’t matter. Is there anyone else who’d be needin’ my services?” “None that I know now. Everything has become muddled since the Reaver broad wave. You’re kind of work may become harder to find in the near future. But, you will be the first if I hear anything.” “I don’t know, I have a feeling business just might increase. Thanks, Ming Yue. I’ll be earth-side some time early tomorrow evening.” “I will see you then, my friend.” Mal nodded and turned off the cortex. He looked at his course chart to check the next system on their path, only to find a course change had been made without his knowledge through the Akira system where the black rock that was his home planet still orbited. He didn’t want to go there. The Alliance attacked Shadow a year after the beginning of the war, incinerating it. It was now completely uninhabitable. It tore him apart when he first heard the news, thinking about everyone and everything that he loved from his youth—his friends, his mother, and especially Annaleigh—were now ashes floating in the back. He took his anger out on the Alliance forces. That was a long time ago, though. When Wash was alive and piloting the boat, Mal made a point of avoiding the bridge when they flew through. Angrily, he hit the com. “River, you need to be on this bridge and explain yourself!” She had left the bridge earlier to eat dinner which was several hours ago, and that turned into talking to Inara in her shuttle. A moment later, she stepped inside of the bridge doorway. “It was irrational to take a flight path around the Akira system. Your original plan would add an unnecessary one and a half hours to our journey,” she said. “I ain’t flyin’ anywhere near that system,” he seethed. He stood up to tower over her, but she didn’t give any sign of intimidation. He didn’t like that, especially when it came from his crew, and especially when that someone was still kind of crazy. “You can go near, you don’t have to see.” “What?” “I can fly by myself.” He looked at her questioningly. He still wasn’t sure about letting her pilot on her own. “If I feel the least bit wonky, I’ll call for you.” He considered for a second. “If there is any bit of wonkyin’ around while you’re in my pilot seat, there’s gonna be a reckonin’. Dong ma?” She nodded. “Take a seat… and no more course corrections without my knowledge.” She sat down in the pilot’s seat, and he left the bridge. He started making his way down the front corridor so he can take the back stairs to the infirmary to find ointment for the itchy scar when a loud banging sound came from Kaylee’s bunk. “Hey, keep it down in there! Some people would like some quiet,” he said thinking of Zoe who was asleep in her bunk. “Sorry!” yelled Simon from down below. Mal could hear Kaylee giggling in there with him. Mal grimaced in annoyance and disgust. It was bad enough that they were breaking his policy on shipboard romances, and he really didn’t want to know when and where it was being broken. As he started making his way towards the kitchen, Inara came up the stairs from the cargo area with a hair brush in her hand. “What was that noise?” she asked. “It was nothing. You know… kids,” he said gesturing in the direction of the string lights. Inara smiled a polite smile. Then as her gaze kept lock on his eyes, her expression began to hold more substance. “We, uh,” he stammered. Now looking into her eyes, he was starting to seriously reconsider that policy of his. Then again, Inara wasn’t crew, and they no longer held a business arrangement. He wouldn’t even be breaking his own rule! “We’re headed back to Beaumonde to find work, should be there some time tomorrow evening. Maybe… while we’re there, we—as in you and I—could--” Bang, bang, BANG! The noise was again coming from his mechanic’s bunk. “WHAT DID I JUST SAY!” he yelled at Kaylee’s door. “Sorry!” piped Kaylee. Mal grimaced again. Over Inara’s shoulder, Mal could see that River had turned her attention towards their direction in the corridor, and then Jayne’s bunk door opened. He was suddenly aware that he had an audience. “What’s all the hollerin’ for? Some people are tryin’ to sleep,” grumbled Jayne. “It’s nothin’, Jayne. Go back to sleep,” said Mal. “Tell those two to keep it quiet. I don’t wanna hear ‘em sexin’.” Jayne slammed his bunk door closed. Mal looked at Inara and gave her an embarrassed smile. He didn’t know what to say. Inara sensed his discomfort and wanted to break the awkward silence. “Please let me know when we get to Beaumonde,” she said gently. “Will do,” he said genuinely smiling. She smiled back and started up the stairs to the bridge. He turned around and walked through the galley headed towards the back stair well. On the bridge, Inara stood next to River and started brushing her hair. “I think I was right. You do look better with your hair brushed,” said the older woman. “Thank you.” There was a pause. “Sweetie, how are you feeling?” she said still brushing River’s hair. “You’re asking about my brain.” “Yes.” “Better than before we landed on Miranda. The whole ‘verse knows now. Rioting. Anger. Everyone knowing the truth makes me feel more like a girl again without the needles. But, I’ll never truly be the whole River again. Brain damage is irreversible. I can still feel everything, see everything.” She paused a moment and let her mind listen to the ship. “Simon and Kaylee are very happy. Zoe is hurting,” she said picking up a plastic stegosaurus and affectionately touching its nose. “Mal missed you.” Inara stop bushing River’s hair. “He wouldn’t say it before, but he did. He was going to ask you to dinner in the corridor. You want to go, don’t you?” asked River, pausing. “You do. You think he’s honorable… You haven’t had any clients since you left Serenity. Only instruction.” Inara smiled. “I think I know what you mean. It’s a relief when someone else knows your secret.” “I won’t tell anyone,” said River. “I don’t think this secret is going to make me crazier.” Inara laughed softly. “Thank you.”

The ship landed on Beaumonde the next evening just after the sun set. The sky was red-orange in the west and dark blue in the east. Mal, Jayne, Zoe, Simon, and Kaylee were prepping the mule for a run to Fang Ming Yue’s store as the ramp lowered. “Can we get some fresh fruit today?” asked Kaylee. “Only if it’s comin’ out of your own pocket,” answered the captain almost matter-of-factly. They still had plenty of money from the heist on Lilac, but he didn’t know how long it would last. Kaylee knew his reason from past experience, but that didn’t stop her from showing a little disappointment on her face. Simon gave a promising wink to her, and her hopes rose. Mal turned to Zoe. “Don’t forget, we also need to get more ammo and restock the infirmary.” “We won’t,” said Zoe. With that Zoe, Jayne, and Simon hopped onto the mule and glided off. “So,” said Kaylee turning to Mal. “Got any big plans today?” “Refuel. Find work,” he said turning to head up the stairs. “Work is all you’re plannin’ on doing?” she said fallowing him. “Yup.” “You weren’t plannin’ on doing anything else while we’re here on Beaumonde?” Mal stopped and turned to face the mechanic, confounded by her inquiry. “What are you gettin’ at?” “Well, last night while I was in my bunk I heard you talking to Inara, and I thought--” “You heard me over all that noise you were makin’?” “Yeah,” she said with no shame. “You must be turning into a rabbit, ‘cause you’re hearin’ like one, and, since you and Simon have gotten together, you’re matin’ like one.” “Cap’n, I like both of you, is all, and I want the best for you.” “Kaylee, I hired you to keep this boat in the sky, not to put your nose in other people’s business.” “Can’t help it, Cap’n. You can only go so far on this boat. Other people’s business sometimes comes to find you.” “I know that. Too well! All I’m sayin’ is keep to yours and I’ll keep to mine. And by the by, the next time you and Simon decide to start ruttin’ around, do it in his room. I don’t want Zoe hearin’ you.” “Yes, sir.” He turned back around to find himself nose-to-nose with the dark-haired companion. “Inara,” he said slightly taken back by her presence. She was wearing one of her stunning red and gold dresses. “Cap’n, I’m gonna go see what River is doin’,” said Kaylee seeing that she better leave the two alone. She started making her way up the stairs. “Hey, Inara,” she said. “Hey, you,” said Inara. After Kaylee disappeared into the upper level airlock, she turned to the man. “Mal, I was hoping to use the mule, but I see the crew has already taken it. I need to pick up a few things that can’t wait until we can get back to the training house.” “You need the mule? How much are you planning on picking up?” “Its not what I need to pick up, its where. I need to go by the temple here to make an altar. It’s too far to walk.” “Well Zoe, Jayne, and Simon took it for supplies. They should be back later.” Mal paused for a moment. “How about in the mean time we go out for a drink?” Inara smiled. “Absolutely.” “Kaylee! The boat is yours, I’m goin’ out!” Mal shouted upstairs. “Okay, you two have fun!” she yelled back from the upper level.

The bar they found was bustling with people and music, but Mal and Inara found a quiet corner where they settled for a simple game of darts and a couple of drinks. “And, Jayne says to the guy, ‘I don’t take too kindly to being arrested for murder.’” Mal threw his second dart at the target, hitting just above the bulls-eye. His first dart had landed the lower-right section of the outer bulls-eye. Inara’s darts were scattered all over the board: one near the 20 at the top of the board, the second to the left of the bulls-eye within the inner circle, and the third had landed in the far lower-right quadrant. “Uh, oh,” said Inara. “What did you do?” She took another sip of her drink. “Well, it took a little persuasion, but he finally saw our way.” He threw the third dart at the board, hitting the bulls-eye again. “Persuasion? Meaning you killed him?” “No. Well, almost.” He walked over to the board and removed the darts. “There was a shoot out, and Zoe got him in the shoulder. After we showed him we weren’t even in the system when the murder happened, he saw the light. Then the doc fixed him up, and we went on our merry way.” “With the stolen goods hidden on board.” “Well, there was no reason to back out of the job. The sheriff might have figured that the mercenary who came out of the black on my boat was the one who shot his deputy, but he didn’t think that the same Firefly was responsible for the missing ducks.” “To think I left Serenity too soon and missed the great duck caper!” Mal walked over to her from where he was standing next to the dartboard. “I win. Let’s play another game, but none of that modest companion downplay. I wanna see the real Inara up there.” She put her drink down on the table next where she was standing next and took her darts. She stood at the line and threw each dart in succession and effortlessly hit the center of bulls-eye all three times. “Maybe you should give up now,” she said moving to stand beside him. Mal stared at the board in shock. He knew she was better than she was pretending to be, but not that good. “Huh. I am accustomed to losin’,” he said. Though, he didn’t feel belittled by her play. As a matter of fact, it turned him on. He turned his head to meet her eyes. She was standing close enough that her perfume danced around his head, and it made him dizzy with anticipation. He leaned in close to her, but he never made contact with her lips. A loud explosion of laughter came from a crowd of five at a table across the room. “Okay boys, I see this pumpkin’s gettin’ a little ripe,” said a familiar voice. Mal looked over at the disruption on the other side of the room. The voice was paired with a familiar-looking woman who wore a long black hooded coat and had chestnut brown hair. Mal thought he was looking at a ghost. “Tsai boo shr (No way),” he said. He walked over to the woman, and touched her arm. She turned to him. She had aged eleven years, but her eyes confirmed to him that she was real. “Annaleigh?” he said. The woman blinked at him. “Mal?”


Wednesday, December 20, 2006 7:53 PM


Hah! Only Mal would get all hot and bothered by Inara whooping his ass at darts. Though it does bode well that they can have a nice competition without it sinking to petty name-calling;D

And why do I get the feeling that Annaleigh's reapperance is gonna cause Inara some consternation? Cuz her track record with women showing an interest in Mal is kinda anti-brilliant;)


Thursday, December 21, 2006 8:34 AM


The 'verse really doesn't want Mal amd Inara to get together or so it seems. I really had to laugh at Kaylee and Simon going at it like rabbits but that is a good suggestion for them to move the action to Simon's bunk to spare Zoe. Losing her man is bad enough without having the loss rubbed in like salt in an open wound, however unintentioned. A little discretion would be shiny. Can't wait to find out what the meeting with Annaleigh will presage. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, January 9, 2007 5:28 AM


“You must be turning into a rabbit, ‘cause you’re hearin’ like one, and, since you and Simon have gotten together, you’re matin’ like one.”


You must log in to post comments.



Mal muses on the phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” right after the war. Extremely short one-shot drabble.

Weights and Colors
River dreams a dream. Set during "Those Left Behind". Rated PG-13 'cause it gets a little scary.

Not Sorry
Super-short M/I fluff! (Frodo Baggins would look down at the shortness of this fic!) Mal and Inara in the market place. Set towards the very end of the BDM.

Not Without a Fight
FLUFFINESS ALERT! I finished the BDM novel, and one of Mal’s thoughts inspired me to write this ficlet. Those of you who have read the book know what prompted this! ;-) M/I, post-BDM. It’s kinda on a subject that a lot of people have already written, but I don’t care. Enjoy!

Kissing You Gives Me Déjà Vu – The Complete Trilogy
Set post-BDM.
Part 1: Mal kisses Inara for the first time and gets a weird feeling.
Part 2: Several years later, he finally remembers!
Part 3: He deals with Inara’s news with Kaylee’s help.

The Children of Shadow, Ch. 2
Post-BDM Mal meets up with his long lost girlfriend from Shadow. Love triangle between Mal/Inara/OC.

The Children of Shadow (formerly You Can Never Go Home Again), Ch. 1
Post BMD. The crew heads out to Beaumonde to find work, and Mal meets someone he never thought he'd see again. Pairings: mostly Mal/Inara, some Simon/Kaylee

The Children of Shadow (formerly, You Can Never Go Home Again): Prologue
Set at the begining of the war on Shadow. Mal tells his childhood girlfriend that he's going off to war.