Barriers, Part 2
Monday, January 1, 2007

Another PC fic, 6 months before Tough, definitely a prequel. Context hard to understand without Tough, but still readable. Serra and Inara on Sihnon, Mal on Serenity.


Title: Barriers

Rating: PG-13

Characters: Serra, Inara, Mal. Brief appearances by Abe, the rest of the crew, and the Sihnon Serras.

Pairings: Canon pairings apply, but I've run back to heavy M/I

Summary: Another PC fic, 6 months before Tough, definitely a prequel. Context hard to understand without Tough, but still readable.

Disclaimer: Most of the characters (sans PCs and Ally) aren't mine, but the situation is.

For newbies: Brother, Shadow, Mei-Mei, Mischief, Pirate Children, Mistletoe, Hell-Raising, Barriers,Tough, Echo (?)

Author's Note: Thanks guys! Here's the last chapter, though there will be more PC to come.

Part 2

Ally wakes early in the morning, searching out the kitchen for a cup of tea, preferably caffeinated. Instead, though, she finds the captain passed out, face down on the table, half-empty bottle of engine wine in front of him. She lets out a soft sigh and kisses away all hope of a pleasant morning. First removing the bottle of wine from his firm grip, she then begins to shake his shoulder, at first gently and then violently. “Get up, Captain.” A little groaning and snuffling comes from Mal as he fights her off, but he shows no sign of getting up. She kicks him a little. “I’m going for the water.” His head pops up, but he lets out a terrible moan and slaps a hand over his eyes. “Gorramnit, Teach,” he groans, “It’s too ruttin’ bright.” “Well, that’s what happens when you drink yourself into oblivion… You come back. Next time drink a little more so we’ll be rid of you for good.” Mal grunts in return as Ally attempts to help him to his feet. “You drooled on the table,” she notes, disgust in her voice. “Where we going?” “Putting you in bed, Captain.” “Not the shuttle.” “Okay, Captain. We’ll put you in your passenger dorm. Any other orders?” Through his hangover haze, he shoots Ally an angry look. Supporting most of his weight on her shoulder, she helps him stumble down the stairs and into the empty passenger dorm he’s been inhabiting for months. She slides the door open and dumps him on the bed, earning an indignant grunt. Ally takes off his shoes and covers him with a blanket, fetching a glass of water from the bathroom across the hall. With a sigh, she sets the glass on the night table and moves to turn off the light. “Keep hydrated,” she says, pausing with her hand at the light. “Please don’t puke.” He nods. “This is pathetic, you know.” “Not really lookin’ for a lecture, little professor.” “You’re not really in a position to avoid it. She’s not going to come back…” “I know,” he interrupts, eyes closed against the bright lights. “Could you hit the lights?” “No. And you didn’t let me finish. She’s not going to come back if you sit here wallowing. And if she does come back and finds you like this? She’ll turn around and walk right back off. She needs you to be her husband, and Serra needs you to be her father. Not her captain, her father. Think on that while you sleep it off.” She snaps the light off and slides the door closed, loudly, behind her.


Abe takes her out to the park the day after his arrival, rents them time in a rowboat, and pushes away from the dock. “Spill it,” he demands. “All of it.” “Spill what?” Serra asks. “There’s nothing to tell, Abe. You’ve heard all about how I ended up there.” “But not what it was like there. Tell me, Mei-Mei. Please.” She says nothing, eyes scanning the Core-bred people in their fancy clothes, carefree and leisurely on the water. “You don’t want to know, Bubba.” His eyes meet hers. “I do.” Serra swallows, eyes darting away from her brother’s intense stare. She pulls her knees to her chest and rests her arms on them, lowering her chin to sit on her hands. She looks all of twelve and it breaks Abram’s heart. “What part do you want to hear first? The needles? The discrimination? The fights?” “All of it.” Her eyes are big and wide and young momentarily, before the cold steel slams back into place. “They used needles, Mei-Mei?” “The doctors, yes. All new prisoners are taken to the infirmary for tests, to make sure we don’t have any new diseases to add to the mix. It was there that the doctors and nurses discovered my… interesting reaction to sharp, pointy objects.” “Screaming, kicking, and hitting?” he grins a little, trying to keep her from slipping back to that place. “Something like that,” she smiles sadly, stretching herself back and letting the Sihnon sun soak into her skin. “As physicians… Did they exploit that?” “On occasion. Though it was mostly the neighboring inmates who noticed my…” “Phobia,” Abe adds. She doesn’t like to say it out loud, to admit a weakness. “Right. There was a fight that first night.” “Did you start it?” “No. But I was involved.” “Of course.” Her glare tells him this is not the time. “I can’t say that my fellow combatants came out as shiny and pretty as they’d been. They were a little…” “Disgruntled?” “To put it lightly, yes. Back to the infirmary for them, where they happened to swipe a few needles…” “Renci de Fozu,” Abe whispers, willing her to stop now. “There were too many of them… Bubba, I fought them but…” “That’s enough,” he says, voice cracking. He stops rowing, focusing all of his attention on Serra. “I get it.” He can see the horrors inflicted upon her in her eyes, in her blustering bearing. “You asked,” she whispers. “I know,” Abe says, reaching a hand out to rest on her knee. She sits up straight, resting her hand on top of his. “I’m sorry. You don’t… you don’t have to go on.” It’s weak on his part, he knows. Talking about it will probably aid in her healing, to get it off of her chest. But he can’t be her confidante in this. If she tells him anything else about what happened there, he won’t, can’t be responsible for his actions. After hearing only this, a bloodlust stronger than he’s felt in a while is pooling in his gut. “I love you, Mei-Mei,” he says, pulling her across into a tight hug, “And you’re the strongest person I know.” She rests her head in the crook of his neck, feeling truly safe for the first time in six months.


“Welcome back to the living, Captain,” Zoe says as he climbs onto the bridge. Mal nods, still feeling a little groggy from the previous night. “How’re we doing?” “On course, sir. Due to set down on Whitefall tomorrow, make the drop.” “Good thing Patience isn’t around any more,” Mal grins a little, meeting Zoe’s sidelong glance. “That’s one perspective,” Wash grumbles from the pilot seat. Mal lets it slide. “Well, I guess I better go check on the cargo, make sure everything’s in order before we get there.” “Sounds like a great idea, sir.” Mal turns and leaves the cockpit. “Does he know you did that three days ago?” Wash asks once he’s out of earshot. Zoe smiles a little and pats her husband’s shoulder. “Won’t hurt to do it again.” “I just hope this means things will be getting back to normal around here.” “As normal as they can be,” Zoe sighs, referring to their missing crewmembers.


Abe returns to Ariel a few days after the boat affair, and his sister is already getting antsy. Land-crazy is right around the corner. That night, Inara makes up her mind. After breakfast the next morning, she pulls Serra aside and tells her to go down to the docks with Rafe, the Serras’ driver, and book them passage for the next morning to Persephone. Serra beams brightly. As much as she is loathe to admit it, she is terribly homesick for Serenity, and no matter how angry she is at her father, she misses him desperately. While Serra and Rafe are down at the docks, Inara makes a ‘wave. “Aunt ‘Nara?” Kacey answers the ‘wave, incredulous and grinning. “Kacey,” she smiles, forgetting how much she missed the young man. “Is the captain around?” “No,” Kacey says, voice hopeful. “But I can go get him.” “No,” Inara says, a little too quickly. She recovers. “Please, don’t. I’d rather he not know.” “Right,” Kacey nods. “Yes, ma’am. What can I do for ya, Aunt ‘Nara?” “Could I speak with your mother?” “Not a problem. Just one second.” He flips a few switches and calls for his mother, who quickly comes to answer the ‘wave. “Anything in particular I can do for you, Inara?” Zoe asks, eyes narrowing curiously at the sight of the captain’s estranged wife. “Come get us?” Inara asks, voice sounding a little desperate. “Serra really needs to be home right now.” Zoe thinks on it momentarily, then nods. “Where are ya?” “Sihnon, right now. But we leave for Persephone in the morning.” “Then we’ll be there to pick you up.” “Thank you, Zoe,” Inara breathes, more relieved than she thought she would be.


“Alright. I’m confused. Job’s supposed to be Whitefall to Beaumonde. Why’s the Albatross tellin’ me that we’re headed to Persephone?” “We’ve got passengers waitin’ on us, sir,” Zoe answers, continuing to clean her gun. “Won’t be but a bit out of our way. We’ll still make Beaumonde on time.” “Passengers? Why in gorramn hell are we changin’ course for passengers? We don’t really have anywhere to put ‘em.” “Would if you’d get your lazy ass back to your room,” Zoe says, evenly. Mal shoots her a look that says he’s currently not amused. “Just trust me, sir.”


“Zoe, your passengers were supposed to be here an hour ago,” Mal complains, viewing his watch for the fourth time. “We’ve got a schedule to keep.” “Relax, sir. They’ll be here,” Zoe says, following Kacey up to the bridge, sharing a grin that the captain can’t see from below in the cargo bay. Mal grumbles and continues to pretend to be busy with the cargo. “Daddy?” Mal turns around, sure his mind is playing tricks on him. But there she is, alive and healthy it seems. Older than he remembers, no longer a little girl. Pistol on her hip, hands in her belt loops. His Mei-Mei, bluster and swagger firmly in place, except… Her eyes are momentarily vulnerable and hopeful. “Serra?” She smiles a little and crosses quickly to him. He smiles and holds her tight, feeling her rest her cheek against his chest. They stay for a few moments, before Serra pulls back, setting her nonchalance back into place. “Hi.” “Hello, Mei-Mei. How you been?” Serra shrugs. “Okay, I guess. Permission to come back aboard, Captain?” “Of course.” “Good,” she grins. “’Cause I was comin’ aboard no matter what you said.” “I figured. Gotta keep up some captainy pretences, though.” “Of course.” “So, passengers? Your Aunt Zoe was bein’ a mite sneaky.” “And you’re as dense as ever, I see,” she teases back, “There’s an ‘s’ on that.” He wrinkles his brow at her as she gestures over her shoulder. He follows her thumb to the ramp, where his wife is standing uneasily. “Don’t be stupid,” Serra says as Mal starts to move towards Inara. Kaylee yells for the Mei-Mei excitedly from the catwalk above, and Serra leaves her father to go greet the rest of her family. “You left,” Mal says, testing the waters. He resists the urge to reach out and touch Inara, to prove she’s real. Instead, he stuffs his hands in his pockets, feeling more like a twelve-year-old boy than the gray old man he is. “Yes. It had to be done. If you…” Her chin is held high, but her voice falters, “If you think so little of me to use that word, then I shouldn’t be here.” “Inara…” She meets his gaze, eyes a little wet, but steely. “But you came back.” “Serra…” she stumbles again over her words. “You found her,” he notes, glancing over his shoulder to see Serra smiling and laughing with Kacey and Lolly. Inara follows his gaze and sees the same thing, though she also sees through Serra’s façade, “Fahmy found her,” she corrects as his eyes swing back around to her. She looks so tired. “So you went to Sihnon.” “Yes. It was just coincidence… Can we take this somewhere other than the ramp? It’s been a rough travel week. That is… if I’m allowed aboard.” Mal swallows the lump in his throat, crosses his eyes back to his now vibrant crew. As he returns his eyes to Inara, he offers her his hand. “Of course,” he swallows again as she slips her small hand against his rough, old palm. “Of course. This is our home.” She squeezes his hand, and he pulls her close, wraps his arms around her, feels her bury her face in his chest. “I’m sorry,” he whispers, voice rough. “I’m so sorry, ‘Nara…” “I know,” she says softly, tipping her face up to look at him. She smiles a little, and his heart clenches, a returning smile breaking out on his face. “Idiot.” “Well, yes, ma’am, I am that,” he admits, his smile growing. Inara’s eyes return to seriousness momentarily. “It’s going to take time…” “I know,” he assures her. “But we, at least, have that. Time.” He starts to smirk a little, in that way that makes him look so much younger. It infuriates and thrills her, as always. Renci de Fozu, she’s missed him. Hands on his upper arms, she pushes herself up to kiss him. “You know,” Kacey calls from up on the catwalk, Serra in headlock that she only half tries to get out of. “I seem to remember a certain schedule, Captain.” “Bi zui,” Mal calls up to them. “Go neck in your own room!” Kaylee calls, smiling widely. “We’ve gotta close that ramp.” “Hey,” Serra says, struggling out of the headlock. “I’m hungry. Who’s makin’ dinner?”

el fin


Monday, January 1, 2007 3:15 PM


Hooray, they're back together! I was worried for a while that the Captain was going to drink himself into oblivion without the separation being resolved. Sigh, I can sleep happy now. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, January 1, 2007 3:31 PM


"Go neck in your own room!"

Haha :DDD. For some strange reason I find this a least three times funnier than it ought to be. Maybe because it's Kaylee saying it...?

Monday, January 1, 2007 5:18 PM


Oh, I loves me some PC - Thank you so much for this shiny new year's gift!

I think the resolution of both Serra's captivity and Inara's return were handled well. I would of course LOVE to see the ensuing conversations, fights, etc. but I that might be just a bit too angsty!

Monday, January 1, 2007 5:27 PM


Serra shrugs. “Okay, I guess. Permission to come back aboard, Captain?”

“Of course.”

“Good,” she grins. “’Cause I was comin’ aboard no matter what you said.”

hehe oh those two...did inara leave just because mal said 'that word'? or was there more? i feel like he would have called her that a few times over the years, no? he's not exactly...oh, what's that word...prudent?

oh, and i'm glad inara called him an idiot ;)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007 7:03 PM


Hmm...I get the feel it wasn't the word in itself, Kaynara. More like the context of the conversation/argument Mal and Inara were having at the time. Cuz I get the feeling the topic was related to Mei-Mei...and heated to the point of serious "Whoa!"-ness:(

And I gotta did mighty well with how you portrayed Abe taking the news, AWindsor. As an older brother, I know what it's like to hear news from one's younger sibling that makes the blood boil and erases all traces of civility from one's mind. I can only too well imagine the difficulties Abe was going through in that see:S



You must log in to post comments.



Dirt-Kisser (3/3)
20ish years post-BDM. Serenity takes on passengers, Serra undergoes a rite of passage. (3/3) Fluffy, fluffy, fluffy. At long last, the conclusion to this long-neglected PC fic.

Dirt-Kisser (2/3)

20ish years post-BDM. Serenity takes on passengers, Serra undergoes a rite of passage. (2/3) Fluffy, fluffy, fluffy.

21 years post-BDM. Serenity takes on passengers, Serra undergoes a rite of passage. (1/3)

Breathing, 1/1
A stand alone, PC angst. Set 37ish years post-BDM. Serra at 27.

Civilized, 1/1
Another PC. Abe and Inara, five times on Serenity. A stand alone companion to Echo.

Delinquent, 1/1
After long last, another PC fic. 19ish years post BDM. The dangers of underage drinking. And other hilarity. Dedicated to Kaynara.

Forty, 1/1
A PC one-shot fluff. 14ish years post-BDM. Inara turns forty.

New Leaf
Her heart says yes the moment he asks, tumbled in a heap at the bottom of the cockpit stairs, groaning before he fliply pops an interesting variation on “the question”.
M/I. A precursor to Pirate Children

Barriers, Part 2
Another PC fic, 6 months before Tough, definitely a prequel. Context hard to understand without Tough, but still readable. Serra and Inara on Sihnon, Mal on Serenity.

Another PC fic, 6 months before Tough, definitely a prequel. Context hard to understand without Tough, but still readable.
Inara and Serra on Sihnon.