Self Contained Chapter 10
Monday, May 12, 2008

River and Xiaofan try to get at the heart of the matter. But it's never easy.


Title: self contained

Author: joly

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Drama-y, Romance-y, Angst-y (very little), Adventure-y

Pairing: Mostly Simon/Kaylee, might be some Miver or Ral or whatever the kids are calling the River/Mal pairing, might be some Jayne/OC, haven't decided.

Spoilers: All the way to ‘Objects in Space’. But no BDM spoilers. In this story that hasn’t happened yet. We can, however, assume that things have gone all canon-like after ‘Ariel’ and up til this point.

Summary: A continuation of ‘Anti Hero‘. Set significantly after ’Objects in Space’. Xiaofan has to make a quick exit after thugs bust into her practice. She assumes it’s just a robbery gone wrong. But is it ever that simple? It’s now her turn to call on the help of her old friend Simon Tam and the crew of Serenity.

Disclaimer: I don’t own Firefly, the crew, the ‘Verse, any of that stuff. I just like to tell stories. Joss and The Man own the stuff. All the OC’s are mine and I reserve the right to use them any way I please. I make no money, I expect none. Peace and Blessings.

Thanks: To everyone who read ‘Anti Hero’, much thanks. Makes me all squishy inside. And to those reading this who continue to read, yes, more squishiness.

Distribution: Any where, just let me know so’s I can do a little dance.

Feedback: Please and Thank You. Read and review at your leisure.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ *************** ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There was a heated discussion the next day.

“I don’t know why they were chasing me! I have no idea what they wanted. It confounds and mystifies me as to why anyone would…”

“These aren’t your run of the mill mercs or bounty hunters. These were Fed enforcers and trained killers,” Mal damn near yelled.

“Again, I have no idea-”

She was cut off by Simon entering the conversation.

“I have a theory.”

They looked at him expectantly.

“Well, the…”

River spoke up.

“They called him the tall man, in their heads. I don’t know what he called himself.”

“Well, the tall man said something about Xiaofan being worked on, and he would break her down. What if he was referring g to her memory?”

Mal looked at him blankly. Realization dawned on Xiaofan’s face.

“So, you think I did something, or for some reason, my memory was modified?”

“Something to that affect, yes.”

River gnawed on a fingernail quietly.

“I won’t…” she whispered to herself.

“What could it possibly be?” Xiaofan yelled. “Why in Heaven’s name would anyone kill that many people to get to me?”

“I can’t, Simon,” River said, with a little more volume.

Mal put in, “Well, I ain’t hangin’ around to find out.” He stood and walked towards the corridor leading to the bridge. He doubled back, “How would we go about findin’ out about what might be in her head?’

River keened. Simon was instantly at her side, Kaylee close behind.

“What is it?”

“I can’t…”

“River, what can’t you do?” Kaylee asked quietly.

“In her head. I can’t do it. I don’t want to… It’s too much…”

Zoe and Mal exchanged glances.

“Moonbrain sayin’ she can find out what’s in Xiaofan’s head that they don’t want nobody to know?” Jayne asked, carefully on the other side of the room.

“Nooooo…” she wailed.

Xiaofan moved forward and knelt beside her, stroking her hair.

“Simon, what does she mean?”

There was a pregnant pause amongst the entire crew. Simon looked at Xiaofan, considering.

“River… is special.”

“Yes, we’ve been over that. Why is she special? Does it have to do with her trauma?”

More pausing, lots of exchanged looks.

“Xiaofan… Let’s talk.”

She looked at him apprehensively.


She let him lead her back to her room.


“So, we’re on the run again?” Jayne grunted.

“We were always on the run, that ain’t changed,” Zoe shot back.

“Now we got one more. Don’t need no more doctors.”

“Right. Sure. Gotcha, Jayne,” Xiaofan said, re-entering the common area.

“Doctor fill you in?” Mal asked.

She sat heavily in one of the chairs.

“Yes, he did.” She put her head in her hands and massaged her scalp.

“And?” Kaylee asked.

“And what?” she said, looking at the young mechanic.

“What do you think?” Zoe put in.

“I think it’s insane. It’s full on rutting crazy.”

“Well, yep, that was the general idea,” Jayne tossed in,

Everyone turned and looked at the big merc.

“What?” he said, “River’s crazy. We know that.”

Focus went back to Xiaofan.

“I mean, I think I believe it. I’m fairly sure. It’s…” She took a deep breath. “Our government…”

“Well, not our government, per se,” Simon said.

“A group got together and cut her brain, tortured her… What doctor could do that? We still take an oath. Have since Earth-that-was. ‘First, do no harm.’” She stood up and stalked the room.

“It makes me…” she stopped and looked at the assembled crew, “really, really angry!”

Wash turned to Simon.

“Have you ever seen her like this?”


“Oh, yeah?”

“It was an argument we had… She… Well, she’s good at it.”

“At what?”

“Getting her point across vocally.”

“I see.”

“How could they… It‘s immoral, it‘s reprehensible, it‘s earth shatteringly cruel,” she sat down next to River, “River, I’m so sorry. I’m so…” She stopped. “It won’t help. I’m going to stop.” A deep breath. “You think you can look into my head and see if there’s anything hidden?”

River sat, knees drawn up to her chest, twirling hair around her fingers.


“You don’t have to.” She looked at Simon. “There are other ways to find out. Medical and chemical hypnosis. In a controlled environment…” She looked around at the state of the assembled crew and smiled. “If we can find one.”

“Yes,” Simon said, “I may have most of the supplies for…”

“Won’t work,” River said, chin on her chest, hiding in her hair.

“It could,” Xiaofan said, almost pleading.

River stood and paced.

“Inhibition, mental block, they took precautions.”

A light went on over Simon’s head.

“They placed a barrier…”

“If you try to get at the normal ways, it triggers heart failure.”

Xiaofan looked at River, utterly astounded.

“How do you know this?”

River smiled gently, “Because you do.” She sighed, and sat back down next to her. “I’ll have to.”

Xiaofan was wary, almost fearful.

“Will it hurt?”

“Not as much as dying.”

“Oh,” she said, abruptly. “Alright then.”


Xiaofan, Simon and River were holed up in shuttle two. That’s where River wanted to go, somewhere quiet, small, not a room onboard, autonomous. That was what she said.

Xiaofan was anxious, bordering on panic. Simon saw the look of near terror, and put a hand on her arm.

“I’ll be here the whole time, I’ll keep the two of you safe.”

She nodded.

River looked at her intently.


“Easy to say, you’ve done this before.”


“River,” Simon jumped in, Let’s just get started.”

“It’ll be easier if we lay down on the floor. No where to fall.”

Xiaofan grimaced and lay down next to the girl.

“This might be abrupt.”


Suddenly Xiaofan and River were back on Persephone.

“Hey!” Xiaofan shouted, “How did we get here?”

River shook her head, “I don’t know, this is your head. Technically, we’re not here. I’m using a free form delusion to represent your memories. It’s easier for us to access things if it flows naturally.”

“Well, what now?” Xiaofan looked around, it was just a normal day in the city.

“You tell me, it’s your head. I’m just the guide.”

“Well, this is just down the street from my practice.” She pointed to an area about six meters away. “That is where Mister Badger picked me up… This doesn’t feel right. I know all this.”

“So, something before?”

Her brain felt like it was pulling at itself. It was as if she was on the verge of remembering something important. Or about to have a stroke.

“I don’t know.”

“Obviously,” River said.

“What do I do?”

“Concentrate. Think.”

Xiaofan closed her eyes. River moved closer and put a hand to her forehead.

The world spun and Xiaofan had the overwhelming feeling of vertigo. When she opened her eyes she was somewhere else, again.

“Osiris,” she breathed.

“Home,” River said, just as quietly.

“Not home for either of us, River.”

The young woman smiled, “How are you so smart?”

“Seems like we might be a little connected…”

They stood and took in the environment.

“It’s the medical facility your brother and I worked at. Capital City Medical Center. Huh,” she said, “Looks just like it did on the brochure.”

River looked confused.

“That was the first time I saw it. In a brochure on New Hall. I knew I wanted to be here, working in this facility.”

“It’s very… Big.”


“Any feelings coming to the surface?”

Xiaofan stared at the girl.

“Is it just me, or are you sounding a bit more lucid?”

“I’m focused, it helps. You should be-”

“Yes, yes. I’m focusing.”

Xiaofan took a deep breath and turned inward. There were flashes in front of them. Med Acad, interning, first posting, surgical rotation, working post-op...

“Wait,” Xiaofan said. “Back up. It was like a blip. Well, not exactly. Like a rock in your shoe you just noticed. During my surgical rotation.”

They spun back to her rotation and images flashed in front of them in succession, until they got to a blank spot.

“You know, I think something’s missing,” Xiaofan said, her off hand comment belied by the worry on her face.

“This is unusual.”

“To say the least.”

The next thing Xiaofan knew, River was spinning her around and punching her in the face. She didn’t even get a chance to say “Ouch”.

She woke, if one could truly wake inside one’s subconscious, with a start.

“Why,” she gasped, “did you hit me?”

“I’m really, really sorry. It was one of the imperatives.”


“One of the blocks. You started looking and it stopped you, through me.”

Xiaofan massaged her face.

“Wonderful. Now what? If I can’t look at it with you here, but I need you to help me find it…”

River looked at her hand, picking at her cuticles, she looked back up at Xiaofan.

“We can.”


“It will hurt.”

Xiaofan took a deep breath, shaking her head.

“Let me guess, I keep looking and you hurt me in return.”

“You’ll still be able to find it.”

“If I live that long.”

“How bad do you want to know? Do you really want to know why you’re being chased around the galaxy, people being killed in your wake?”

“Don’t you?”

“Well, of course. But my inhibitory stimuli are so deeply rooted unless I’m triggered any attempt to salvage them will lead to my death and yours.”

“In baby words.”

“It’s in there deep, if I go looking for it, I’ll kill myself and take you with me.”

Xiaofan nodded.

“Then we’ll save that for another time.”

“That’s reasonable.”

“So, you beat the go se out of me until we get to the truth?”

“Or you die.”


“It would solve the problem.”

“Not to my satisfaction.”

“Then stop jawing and start thinking.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ********************* ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A/N: I'd like to thank everyone who's encouraging me, i appreciate more than I can say. Thank you so, so much.


Monday, May 12, 2008 4:51 PM


Being in Xiaofan's head was very interesting, especially with River along. Good writing. I am really loving this story and now really want to know exactly what is up with Xia.

Monday, May 12, 2008 9:46 PM


Good dialogue. I too am wondering just what is hidden inside Xiaofan's mind that is so important. Another Miranda? Something she found out in the hospital?

Monday, May 12, 2008 10:47 PM


well sustained narrative - great understated dialog:)


You must log in to post comments.



Capacity Chapter 15

Capacity Chapter 14
Just about to set foot on Markham and face the bad. One way or the other.

Capacity Chapter 13
Plot moves forward. People from the past poke there heads in. Serenity is quiet and mournful.

Capacity Chapter 12
Mal and the crew find out exactly how horribly they'd been used.

Capacity Chapter 11
The crew does not find what they expected on Kerry.

Capacity Chapter 10
It’s just not a normal day on Serenity unless somebody gets shot, threatened or beat up.

Capacity Chapter 9
It’s a long story… Mal and Ruby bond some more, Xiaofan gets her new face and… then she leaves. Wash and Zoe have a chat and Jayne gets over his issues with Simon and Xiaofan.

Capacity Chapter 8
Out in the black, heading to the next destination. Ruby gets on as a passenger and Xiaofan bullies Simon into getting her a new face.

Capacity Chapter 7
Still on Abaddon Station, Xiaofan confronts her brother, Mal confronts the mystery woman.

Capacity Chapter 6
A stopover at Abaddon Station, weirdness ensues.