Broken Wings: Conclusion (Repost)
Monday, November 19, 2007

The crew take Kaylee home to be buried and the reason for Simon's secrecy is discovered. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.


Notes: This chapter was written before ‘On the Edge’ was finished, and so took considerable time and hair (as I pulled it out in frustration when something didn’t work) to complete.

Thank you for sticking with this. I’ve never worked so hard on a story, and I probably never will again – at least not in the Firefly ‘verse.

There are additional notes at the end. So read, cry, laugh, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this tale. Even if you haven’t, you’ve read along anyway, so something had to make you keep coming back . . . :)

Chapter 19

“I’m sorry it took so long.” Mal stared at the back of Simon’s head as he sat with his son at the base of Kaylee’s grave. Billy was covered in dirt, and under any other circumstance, he’d have laughed at the state of such a prissy doctor’s son.

“We brought her home. That’s all that matters.”

With a heavy heart, Mal knelt beside the younger man and rested a hand on the slim shoulder. He couldn’t bring himself to speak, and he was grateful Simon didn’t lift his head and expect him to say something.

“I suppose.” Mal couldn’t help but feel Simon wanted to say more. It wasn’t all that mattered, but it was a start.

“Thank you.”

Mal stared at the side of Simon’s head for a good long minute before asking, “For what?”

“It’s a long list.” Simon’s voice was deadpanned, and yet held a deeply gratified tone, all at once.

Mal chuckled – a way to hide his discomfort, he knew. “Ain’t used to someone bein’ indebted to me.” He cocked his head to the side, as if tasting a new and delicious desert. “Kinda like the sound of it.”

“We are. More than you’ll ever know.”

Mal watched Simon settle his squirming son more firmly in his lap and hand him a small toy in the shape of a Firefly, which the boy clutched firmly in his hand – before trying to push the butt of it into his mouth.

“Mama,” Simon said, and pointed to the small ship. “Whenever you see it, you think of her.”

Mal’s breath caught and he swallowed thickly. He suspected River had something to do with the tiny replica, and maybe one day he’d ask. Right now, he couldn’t even find his voice. He hoped Simon wouldn’t turn to look at him. Thankfully, the younger man simply continued to repeat the words to his son, hoping that the boy would understand.

Mal stared in silence at the freshly dug grave. The headstone was hand carved and bore Kaylee’s full name, along with the words beloved mother, beneath it.

Mal felt tears well in his eyes as he remembered when they’d set down not more than two days ago now. He’d waved ahead to tell Kaylee’s parents they would be coming. Neither he, nor Simon had the nerve to tell them they’d be coming with their daughter’s body preserved in a cryo box.

Simon only opened it after the grave had been dug, after everyone was there and waiting to see their girl one last time. She looked peaceful, as if she was only sleeping. Simon had taken care of the body. He had taken care of everything.

Mal clenched his jaw and sat back on his haunches. He let go of Simon’s shoulder and closed his eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Simon said to Mrs. Frye. They’d never met the young man who held their grandchild in his arms, but all of their attention was focused on him now. Mal felt like an outsider looking in.

The woman, so much like her daughter with big hazel eyes and an expressive face, was supported by her husband, tears flowing as freely as Kaylee used to hand out smiles.

“You brung her home?” Mr. Frye asked over his sobbing wife’s shoulder.

“We did.” Simon shifted his son from one arm to the other. Mal wasn’t surprised Simon’d held up as well as he had. The man was a doctor. He was no doubt used to delivering such sad news.

“This her boy?”

Simon turned so that his son’s bright eyes were directed toward his grandparents. “This is Billy. Yes.”

Mr. Frye, despite his eyes growing red and puffy, did not shed a tear. He simply gave Simon a once over, touched little Billy’s smooth cheek, and nodded.

“Not a letter came where she didn’t have somethin’ to say ‘bout you.”

Simon had the decency to look embarrassed and glanced down at his feet before meeting Mr. Frye’s gaze again. “I – didn’t know.”

Mrs. Frye pinned Simon in place when she looked up from her husband’s chest. “She loved you somethin’ fierce.”

Mal could see Simon swallow nervously, or uncomfortably. He couldn’t quite tell. It was probably a combination of both.

“I loved her very much.”

Mal could see Mr. Frye swallow deeply before answering. “Then we’ll have a celebration in her honor, an’ a service tomorrow.”

He hadn’t been able to muster tears at the service. But now, here at Kaylee’s freshly covered grave, watching Simon and his son sitting as quiet as a baby could be at the foot of it, he couldn’t stop them. Once one tear had freed itself from its duct, a torrent followed. He didn’t bother to wipe them away; even when Inara appeared at his side and slid her hand into his. She just stood silently with him and offered her support. They stared in silence at their mei mei’s final resting place for a long time.


They all crowded around the shuttle’s Cortex feed and listened with varying degrees of elation as the message replayed.

In the time they had been gone, the Independent army, with their formidable new weapons, had won several decisive victories. The Alliance had pulled their war machine from the outer worlds in an effort to protect and defend those Core ones that still supported their government. But even that proved difficult as political fractures threatened to further divide the balance of power.

The outspoken had become too numerous in number to silence, and riots could be found on every Core world the Alliance still controlled. It wouldn’t be long before the overconfident government was brought to its knees. And then – the real struggle for power would begin, with new factions thinking themselves qualified to take over.

River paused the feed when a tremor reverberated through the shuttle. Everyone glanced out through the front window but there was nothing to see. It could have been a quake for how the ground shook, but those familiar with the sound knew differently.

Mal exchanged a narrow-eyed look with his former pilot. That was a sound a ship’s captain would recognize anywhere.

River smiled knowingly at her brother, who walked slowly away from the group and gathered Billy, who was currently being entertained by Madeline, into his arms.

“What’s that?” Madeline asked as she turned curious eyes on Simon. “A quake?”

“That’s a ship,” Jayne said almost nonchalantly and River giggled silently at the scowl Simon shot in Jayne’s direction. “Port ain’t no where near here, though.”

Billy raised his arms and cooed loudly, Kaylee’s neverending smile clearly visible on his pale face. River smiled despite the sadness she felt encroaching around her brother’s heart whenever he thought of his son’s mother.

“”Why don’t we go see.” River leaned in, kissed Simon’s cheek and then bounced excitedly out the door.

Everyone followed quickly, Mal on River’s heals as she skipped down the ramp and away from the shuttle.

Simon, Billy, Madeline, Jayne and Inara followed a bit more slowly, every one of them looking toward the sky – except Simon. He already knew what they would find there.

Once River led them all an appropriate distance away from the shuttle, she returned to her brother’s side, leaving Mal standing in front of them. She reached out and ruffled Billy’s hair as the source of the noise finally broke through the cloud barrier overhead.

River was overwhelmed with a giddy excitement as their home sailed into view. Thrusters fired, and before long the newly repaired Serenity settled onto the ground not more than a few yards away.

River’s eyes swept over her family, letting their shock, awe and disbelief flow through her body. It was cathartic; something good to come out of all their loss and heartache.

Jayne gawked. His mouth hung open in the way she remembered so – fondly.

Inara’s bottom lip trembled and the tears of joy that welled in her eyes were mirrored in River’s as she made her way to Mal’s side. The former Companion didn’t touch him, but she didn’t have to. The support was there should Mal decide he needed it.

Mal turned to Simon as they all watched the ship settle into its landing place. The shocked expression on his face and the calm, not quite smug look on Simon’s was comforting, after being apart for so long. River’s smile was wide as she stared proudly at her brother. It was a rare thing for Simon to pull one over on Mal.

“You knew about this didn’t you?” Mal finally asked, once his ability to speak had returned.

Simon shrugged, and tightened his arms around his son. Simon knew the importance of what he’d done – even if he still felt a deep sting of loss when looking at the ship. “A doctor in the Core is really paid far too much. I had no bills. I lived at home. What was I supposed to do with all that money?”

Mal swallowed deeply, too overcome with emotion to speak. And no one else dared to break this moment. They remained as silent as mice.

Even though he’d been unable to voice them as of yet, River could sense the questions building in Mal, as well as the anticipation. When the cargo bay doors opened to reveal a smug Zoe standing at the top of the ramp, the Reader could feel the intense relief that swept through his body.

“Your own ship, huh?” Mal asked, and it was clear he was a bit put out by her lie back in the medical center.

“Yes, sir.” She moved slowly down the ramp toward her captain.

His eyes darted from the newly repaired hull and back to Zoe. “So this is where you been the last few weeks?”

Zoe straightened and with a smile said, “Brushin’ up on my pilotin’ skills. Yes, sir.”

“You lied to me.”

River leaned against her brother and smiled into his shoulder. It wasn’t every day Mal was reduced to a near speechless mass of a man.

Zoe leveled a steady gaze at Simon. “Had a promise to keep.”

Simon tightened his arms around his son and moved toward the ramp, drawing River and Madeline with him as if they were barriers against all of the painful memories. He stopped at the bottom and turned back toward his family. “Captain first.”

Mal narrowed his eyes at Simon. “Ain’t wise to keep secrets. I’m a mean old man, you know. Might fall over dead from the shock.”

River felt relief flood her body as the familiar banter returned; it was a sign that all was on its way to becoming normal again. She recognized the comment for what it was – Mal’s way of expressing his thanks, of getting himself out of an uncomfortable situation.

“I’m your doctor, Mal. I know how healthy you are. Dying of heart failure isn’t in any way imminent.”

Mal tried to frown, but a hint of a smile made its way onto his rugged features instead. “Wipe that smug look off your face, doctor.”

“Yes, sir.”

Zoe raised an eyebrow at Simon. “You callin’ him ‘Sir’ might give me a heart attack.”

“The only one that’s going to have heart failure today is me if you all don’t get on that ship,” Inara crossed her arms over her chest. Her eyes swept around the group, and fell on River, who nodded knowingly. She knew they were delaying it. They were afraid.

Mal turned back to Serenity, his expression sobering. “Ain’t right. We’re missin’ people.”

Simon hefted his son and brushed some of the windblown hair out of the boy’s face. “She’s right here.”

Zoe pressed the palm of her hand over her heart. “And here.”

“An you know the Shepherd is lookin’ down on us,” Jayne added with a glance up to the sky. “Laughin’ in that way he had.”

River felt tears sting the corner of her eyes and when Mal turned to look at each of them, she wasn’t surprised to see his own eyes redden.

Inara laced her fingers with Mal’s and he drew in a deep breath at the contact. He glanced once more at Simon and Zoe before turning toward his ship. “Lets go see how our girl’s doin’.”

River slipped her hand into Simon’s, took Madeline’s with the other, and they walked up the ramp together.

Serenity gleamed in the sunlight, in as pristine condition as it ever was even when it first came off the shipyard. It would fly straight and true with its shiny new workings, and maybe, just maybe, their fractured family could be put back together again.

The glue that held the ship together even when there was only faith and hope may be gone but her spirit lived on in the form of a little hazel-eyed boy who would never want for stories of his mother. Their first pilot lived on in the elaborate dinosaur environment added to the bridge in memoriam. And the Shepherd, his faith would always be with them. He’d made a difference just by his short presence in their lives.

They all followed their captain. Each lost in their own thoughts of what this ship had meant to them. With each memory, River could clearly feel the one undeniable bond that held them all together.

They were a family; a family not born of blood, but forged stronger by sacrifice, love and loss.

Those that survived would live to tell the next generation of the members of their family who had gone on before. The stories would only grow in detail as the years passed, but one message would always remain the same.

A true family wasn’t determined by blood. It was determined by friendship, by circumstance and by love.

Some things that broke can’t be fixed.

But family always could be.

END ---------------

End Notes: A big thank you to everyone who followed along with this tale. It took me a long time to write because I’m not used to (nor do I like) writing for ALL the characters. And it was incredibly difficult to pen a 150 page story that killed a BDH in the first chapter.

This story was never meant to have a perfectly happy ending. After all, another member of the crew is gone forever. Even though the Independents win, there will be chaos and insurrection as one government tries to replace another. That’s the way of things. Even the victors of a war must suffer the consequences of that war. The end was as happy as I could make it and still seem at all believable.

Mal4Prez is to blame for this being far more cohesive and LONGER than it originally was. If you liked it, thank her, if not, blame me! My original version of this story was 120 pages. The final version was over 160.

--------------- Reviews before the hack ---------------

LadySage Monday, October 22, 2007 - 06:12

This was a satisfying ending, and that is far worthier than a happy one. Excellent work and I'll really look forward to your future writings.

Even if you didn't like writing for all the characters, you did an excellent job of it! Maybe it was good practice to stretch those muscles.



kittykat26 Monday, October 22, 2007 - 06:14

Just beautiful..I'm pretty much speechless beyond that. ---------------

MerryK Monday, October 22, 2007 - 06:19

I laughed through my tears in this chapter...excellent ending to a sad and yet heartfelt tale. I'm of the opinion that Joss would have killed off Simon first, but this scenario also seems right up his alley, and you wrote it wonderfully. It seems just like Simon at this point in his life to have Serenity repaired, because he knows what it means to Mal, and also as a memorial to Kaylee. Great twist. ---------------

Platonist Monday, October 22, 2007 - 14:59

Wow! is all I can say, pulling together all the threads, giving each character integrity and their heroic moment... a sad, but hopeful ending, a writing feat, no doubt.

Lots of moments here, but my favorites are: Simon getting Serenity repaired, for the crew, and then pointing to it and saying "Mama" to Billy. *sniffs*

Mal's and Inara's understated understanding and subtle resolution described by their handholding

River, Simon and Madeline walking up the ramp together.

Jayne not forgetting Book.

The ending circulating back to the importance of family.

Thank you for writing a wonderful tale. I won't ask for a sequel, but would you consider an epilogue? ---------------

scarecrow866 Monday, October 22, 2007 - 16:32

I came into this story late. I knew Kaylee had died but not the circumstances surrounding it. But I was very very moved by this conclusion, especially the last part about family and how it could always be fixed. So profoundly simple, yet so profoundly true. Simon having Serenity fixed was the best tribute he could give to Kaylee. Thank for the wonderful story and I will be sure to go back and read the whole story. ---------------

Desertgirl Monday, October 22, 2007 - 17:29

I think I can wipe the tears away long enough to write something without dripping on the keyboard. It was a wonderful story.

Thanks so much for all the hard work you put into it.

And I second Platonist's request for an epilogue.

Although I am goin to have to go back and read the last several chapters again because I somehow missed what Simon was doing in that lab to help the independent cause. May be I won't cry the second time, although I doubt it. ---------------

BigBadJayne Monday, October 22, 2007 - 20:01

And I can only sum this I've been sniffling and wiping my face for the last ten minutes.

"Ah, gorramit girl, ya done broke my heart."

Beautiful. Purely beautiful. ---------------

wytchcroft Monday, October 22, 2007 - 21:05

excellent conclusion!:) but it was damn near buried - so i'm late to the party again! congrats Leia:) ---------------

blackbeanie Monday, October 22, 2007 - 21:43

Bah, perfect happy endings are overated. This one is much better.


KiMbEr Monday, October 22, 2007 - 22:35

Ah! Determined to make me cry even in the end, huh? You just wait for the bill, heart-breaker! LOL But one this is certain, there are no words to explain this beautiful, bitter-sweet story. Thanks for sharing :)

Keep flying ;) ---------------

Jaynesgirl212 Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - 03:28

I'm risking getting electrocuted by typing on my tear covered keyboard here! This is one of the best endings I've ever read here. I'd say more, but the words don't want to come to me! I'll leave the words for you! Great job!


Friday, January 18, 2008 8:51 PM


I've been wanting to post feedback on this ever since you finished. Sorry about the lack of promptness.

Regardless, I just wanted to say that I absolutely loved this fic. Bravo for being gutsy and killing off a beloved character, that's a hard thing to do with a fandom. Best of all though you made it believable and meaningful.


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Simon and Kaylee discuss other - avenues, as they lay in bed. Oddly, this is a pretty PG story.

Simon and kaylee disturb the ship with their nocturnal activities. Post BDM. Part of a challenge table. Rated NC-17 for adult content.

Broken Wings: Conclusion (Repost)
The crew take Kaylee home to be buried and the reason for Simon's secrecy is discovered. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.

Broken Wings: Chapter 18 (Repost)
Simon, Mal and Jayne have a moment with Kaylee. Inara and River are reunited with the rest of the crew. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.

Broken Wings: Chapter 17 (Repost)
Simon has a conversation with Zoe, Mal and Jayne - separately. Sequel to 'On the Edge.' Cannon pairings.

Broken Wings: Chapter 16 (Repost)
The crew is reunited - mostly, as Simon arrives to treat the wounded. River rushes to Inara's aid before her deception is discovered. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.

Broken Wings: Chapter 15 (Repost)
Simon's escape is halted by his father. But River comes to the rescue. Jayne - sees the light - far too up close and personal for his safety. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.

Broken Wings: Chapter 14 (Repost)
Simon and Inara's deception is discovered. Mal, Jayne and Zoe continue to fight what looks to be a losing battle. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.

Broken Wings: Chapter 13 (Repost)
Simon has some unexpected help with his fussy son and River receives another assignment. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.

Broken Wings: Chapter 12 (Repost)
Inara and Simon continue their work while a message gets out to those on the front lines. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.