Point of No Return, Part IV
Sunday, May 22, 2005

Simon tries to figure out River's relationship with his newest patient; Mal has a hard time trying to figure Inara out; and a simple job goes south in a hurry.


Disclaimer: This story is in no way meant to infringe on the rights of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, or 20th Century Fox. Just wanted to have a bit of fun with these characters is all. Please don’t sue me.

Thanks for reading. Feedback is always welcome. Oh, and if you’re gonna archive this, please have the courtesy to ask me first.

Rated R. This story contains disturbing graphic violence.

“Point of No Return, Part IV”

***** *****

Inara was glad no one else was in the dining area. She was trying to limit her contact with the rest of the crew; that way it would be easier for them to adjust once she left. And it’d be easier for her as well. At least, that’s what she kept telling herself.

She poured some water into a kettle and set it on the stove. She heard someone coming down the hall and hoped to Buddha it wasn’t Mal. She quickly ducked into the kitchen area, praying he wouldn’t see her. He was the last person she wanted to see right now.

“Hey, ‘Nara,” he said with forced cheeriness.

Damn. So much for not being seen.

“Good morning, captain,” she gave him a cold smile.

Mal smiled back.

Awkward silence.

“You know, I get the impression you ain’t much in the mood for small talk.”

“Why, whatever gave you that idea.”

“I think we should talk.”

“What is there to talk about?”

“Well, what I actually meant was, I think you should talk.”

She gave him a genuinely puzzled look.

“To everyone else. About why you’re leaving.”

She sighed. She felt like she was on the spot. It’s not that she didn’t want to tell them. She just wasn’t prepared.

“Not yet.”

“If you don’t, I will,” he said, looking her in the eye. “I don’t see how keeping it secret is gonna help anything.”

“Neither will telling them,” she snapped. “Besides, my business is my own concern, not theirs and not yours.”

“It very much concerns me. For more than one reason,” he said before he could catch himself.

Inara picked up on his subtext and used it to flip the spot on him. “And those other reasons would be…?”

Mal hemmed and hawed. He’d been cornered.

“Mornin’,” Jayne grumbled as he shuffled into the kitchen. The argument died instantly. Mal was never happier to see the big man in his life. Inara moved to collect her boiling water as Jayne passed her to grab a box of cereal. “Don’t see you round much anymore,” he remarked to her. “Not gettin’ much business lately, or did the last john wear you out just that much?”

“Jayne!” Mal started, but Inara held up her hand. “No, and no,” she answered, regarding the mercenary with a dry look. “Actually, I wore him out.”

“That right?” Jayne’s eyes widened. “You must have more stamina than I thought.”

“You have no idea,” she said as she finished pouring her tea, “and you never will.”

Jayne slumped. Mal watched Inara as she made her exit. She looked over her shoulder at him and he thought he saw something akin to regret in her eyes, but it disappeared as quickly as it came, just before she turned her back and left him standing dumbfounded in the middle of the room.


Serenity jolted a little more than usual as she entered Jasper’s humid atmosphere. She buzzed in a circle over the small energy plant, looking for a place to set down on the hilly terrain. She finally found a good flat spot about halfway between the facility and the nearby mining town and lighted, a little clumsily, in the grassy valley.

Kaylee noticed Serenity’s uneasy descent and made a mental note to tighten the arti-grav couplings as soon as she got a free minute. Right now though, there was a job to be done, and she tried to focus on loading up the tools she needed to help with repairs at the plant. Still, she found her thoughts going back to Serenity’s newest passenger. She guessed he was somewhere between her and Simon’s age, and she imagined, in spite of the scarred jaw and missing eye, that he hadn’t been a bad-looking guy once upon a time. The captain had said they were going to drop him somewhere – anywhere – as soon as he was able to walk. Although Kaylee understood Mal’s reasons, she was a little sad that she couldn’t do more to help this mysterious stranger.

“…gonna meet y’all at the maintenance entrance,” Mal was saying.

“Hmm?” Kaylee hadn’t even been aware of the captain standing in the door to the engine room.

“Engines make you deaf?” he said, surprised at his own gruffness. He had a right to be tetchy between Inara’s leaving, this stressful job, and having to deal with this qing tsang mei yong de stowaway, but he didn’t mean to take it out on Kaylee. Mal softened before he spoke again. “It’s a big load, so we’ll have to make three trips. You and the preacher are gonna ride up with Wash on the second trip. Wish we didn’t have to land so far from the place. It’s an all-day job as it is, even without the loading and unloading.”

“Best we get busy, then,” she said with a straight face, snapping her toolbox shut. She brushed past him as she made her way to the cargo bay.


River was trying to stay calm. She tried to run. Jump. Don’t look down. Not enough space—too many people. All screaming and panicking, clawing at her, getting in her way. Not now! Push. Move. Ignore the smoke. Someone’s blood flies in her face. Wipe it off. Ignore the blood and don’t look down. He went this way, towards the bathroom, but I can’t see. I’ve lost him.

She felt a strong hand grab her. She doesn’t think, just acts. She kicks him hard and he lets go. Move! Too many people, screaming like cattle. This ship is too small. Where the hell is my brother? River feels something sharp suddenly dig into her side; a cereal spoon. Breakfast before school. Gotta hurry up and get ready for school. I hate school. I hate my teachers. They’re all stupid. Can’t wait to get home. Maybe they’ll be back today. What’s wrong? Why are you crying? Crying is useless; it won’t bring them back. They’re both dead. They’re all dead. Can’t look down. All this screaming is getting annoying. Her sister won’t stop screaming. Her sister’s dead too. They hacked her into pieces and used her fingers for jewelry. They saved her heart for me. Her severed head is screaming at me, pleading…Shut up! I can’t think.

One of them tackles her, pins her, his dirty metal hooks dangling from his ugly face. He sweats blood. Not his, but hers; she’s bleeding now. Ta ma de. Where’s dad? He’s a medic. He can fix it. He always said, “Learn well.” Weak fool. I hate him. I want to rip off that brown coat and tear it to shreds. She grabbed him by the hooks and yanked hard. Blood everywhere! Some of it lands on her lips. It tastes a little sweet. She sticks her finger in his open wound for more. The screams fade and die. She looks down.

There he is, beaten. Her little brother. His pants are ripped off. His eye is black and his split lip is bleeding. One of them is on top of him, inside him, pumping hate and blackness into his soul. He cries out to her for help, but she can’t help. She’s too weak. She tries to look away, but they make her watch. Force her eyes open. I don’t want to see. She lightly touches her hand to his lip and kisses his blood on her fingertips. It tastes like cereal.

She wants more. She’s so hungry. They haven’t had fresh meat in days. They start bickering. One of them gets in Alpha’s face and he shoots him. The chamber blows. Everyone is crashing, screaming, clawing at her. They’re all dead. I’m the only one left. It’s dark. I can’t see, but neither can they. She felt like a king.

— River stared at the ceiling. Her eyes had been open all night because his dreams were too loud. She forced them closed, wishing she could’ve stayed blind.


Jayne listened to Kaylee give orders to the workmen repairing the power coil. Girl knew how to take charge, at least when it came to engines and gears and such. She was the only girl in place, but she looked happier than a hog at market, like she was right at home.

Book helped the big man lift the old plating from a column so one of the electrical workers could replace the wiring. Then they put on the new plating and sealed it. One more down, three dozen to go, Book thought. It wasn’t a complaint; he was glad for the work. He wondered how far along Mal, Zoe and Wash were with the repairs in the filtering chamber of the main facility, which was separate from the mine. He looked at his watch. Another twenty minutes, and it’d be break time. He was looking forward to lunch…

His thoughts were interrupted by a loud gunshot, its ricochet echoing off the walls of the mine shaft. A group of surly individuals – Book guessed there were about eight or ten of them – made themselves visible in the harsh underground light. The one with the biggest gun , which he recognized as an MK-4D4 assault rifle, stepped out in front.

“Well I see y’all gots lotsa parts and useful gadgets layin’ round here,” he said with a menacing grin. “Some is junk and some is still good…and lookit this, some is brand-spanking-new. Well ain’t that convenient!”

“What do you want?” piped the shaking foreman.

“Ain’t it obvious, you ruttin’ moron?” Jayne glared at him. “You’re bein’ raided. Hell, some of this stuff I’da pinched myself if I coulda got away with it.”

“How’s about you shut your fat trap,” the man pointed his rifle right at Jayne’s head. The merc fell silent. “Right, then. Face down on the ground, hands flat on the floor. Nobody moves, and maybe nobody dies. Maybe.”


Simon was awake, but he hadn’t moved from his bed. It wasn’t every day the captain let him sleep in like this, but he’d been up most of the night tending to that poor man’s wounds. Besides, Mal knew that with his leg injury, Simon was in no shape to be loading or lifting much of anything. Even so, he was glad of this moment. He was sure everyone else was off the ship busy with the repairs. No Jayne to pester him, nor River to distract him, nor Mal to nag him. Just the quiet of his room and the softness of his pillow, trying to regain the sense of oblivion that had given him peace and much-needed escape…


Ugh. So much for quiet.

A high-pitched squeal shocked his tired ears awake. Simon quickly rolled out of bed and hobbled to his door, fully expecting to see River playing drums on the bay walls with Kaylee’s tools for sticks. He did not expect what he actually saw. Across the short hallway, the young Reaver was thrashing about on the bed, screaming at the top of his lungs, overturning whatever trays and equipment were within his reach. As he made his way to the infirmary, Simon thanked God that Mal had insisted on strapping him to the bed. He opened the door and the man momentarily stopped, his wild eye peering at Simon from under coarse black hair.

“What’s the matter?” Simon asked.

“Not again,” came the reply, and the creature began squirming and screaming again. He tried gnawing at his leather restraints, a slight red trickle at his wrists.

“What are you — no!” Simon stumbled over and tried pinning him still. The boy turned his head and snapped his teeth at Simon’s hand, which Simon moved out of the way as he took a step back. The doctor went to the cabinet and prepped a smoother. The boy stopped screaming and let out a wrenching sob. Simon moved to inject him.

“Wait,” River suddenly appeared. Simon was on edge. “River, please, not now…”

“Don’t send him back yet!” she said, this time more forcefully.

Simon stopped. “Send him back? River, what do you mean? Send him back where?”

She wasn’t listening. She closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them, focused intently on the patient’s face. Simon watched in awe as the boy seemed transfixed on his sister. Their expressions changed and flinched in response to each other, and it looked almost as if they were engaged in some sort of communication, although neither of them said a word.


“Let him go.”


River sighed sharply in frustration. She went to untie the boy herself.

“No, don’t!”

River glared at her brother angrily. Simon shrank back. He wasn’t sure what it was he saw, but in her eyes just then, he thought he saw something raw…something…


In moments the Reaver was free. He swung his legs to one side of the bed, and stood on shaky knees. His first steps were wobbly, and several times Simon was sure the boy was going to fall. He made it to edge of the room and hung on the doorway for a second, and then he was leaping, making great strides to the bay door. River moved after him. Both were too fast for Simon to catch. River hit the green button on the control panel and Serenity’s doors yawned open to the world. The Reaver bounded outside in sort of an uneven stumble-run toward the facility that was not that far in the distance. River sank to the floor and hugged her knees.

Simon wished he’d stayed in bed.


Mal grunted loudly as he slid the heavy cylinder into the filter chamber. Zoe looked at him with concern.

“Maybe you should take it easy for a couple minutes,” she offered.

“Nah,” he scoffed, locking it into place. “OK, where’s the next one?”

“That’s all of them, sir.”

“Oh. Well, maybe I will sit down then,” he said, straining as he moved to sit on the hard metal floor.

“I think Simon has a hot pad you can use for your back,” Wash tried to be helpful.

“I’m not going go crying to the doctor for every little thing,” Mal said. “He’s got enough on his hands with that sister of his.”

“That and his new patient,” Wash added. “Where you wanna let him off?”

“First place we get to after he wakes up,” Mal said heavily, suddenly thinking about River and how she would react once he turned this Reaver loose; the Reaver she had risked taking Zoe’s bullet to protect.

“What do you think will happen to him?” Wash wondered. Zoe shot her husband a look, knowing that Mal was starting to get annoyed by his line of questioning.

“I don’t know. Nor do I care to. If I’d had my way I’d have put a slug in his skull and been done.”

Zoe changed the subject. “Look to be about done in here, Cap’n,” she said. “We should check with the foreman and see…”

Her voice trailed off as the three of them saw Shepherd Book rush in, panting heavily. His shirt was spattered with fresh, rust-colored stains. He dropped to his hands and knees as he tried desperately to catch his breath.

“Trouble,” he managed, “In the mine. They’re trapped….raiders…”

Mal turned pale.

“Kaylee’s down there!”


Monday, May 23, 2005 1:45 AM


Oh awesome! Can't wait to see what happens next. Good myth, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, May 23, 2005 3:39 PM


Great installment. Please tell me this isn't the last we've seen of our friend the Reaver.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 1:52 AM


Stunning. Fantastic.

River's dream/intuition/reading sequence was out of this world. Mal and Inara - pitch perfect. Simon - I really felt some empathy for him. So good. So very good.


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Heart & Soul, Part II
Book is visited by a mysterious man from his past and gets in a fight. Meanwhile Inara, ever calm, ever graceful, finds herself on the raggedy edge.

Heart & Soul, Part I
Mal's trying to adjust. Inara's trying to adjust. Book's journey takes him in an unexpected direction. And someone ends up dead.

Play It Again, Tam
The doctor reveals a hidden talent that touches Mal in a way he didn't think possible. A one-shot.

Point of No Return X, The Conclusion
Serenity is disabled, left without communication, and cornered by the Reaver ship. The only way out is for a member of the crew to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Point of No Return, Part IX
He's lost everything and everyone he's ever loved. Now he's faced with a choice: resist the urge for blood and rebuild his life, or descend deeper into that black madness, beyond the point of no return...

Point of No Return, Part VIII
A bad situation becomes desperate. Kai relives his troubled past, and Wash takes a dangerous risk. Plus: Mal and Monty's great escape.

Point of No Return, Part VII
The crew take on a new job, thanks to Jubal Early. Book gives Simon a helping hand in his investigation; Kaylee and Mal find themselves in a deadly situation; and Wash realizes they're not alone.

Point of No Return, Part VI
The day that Inara has been dreading for weeks finally arrives. Simon can't understand the connection between his sister and the Reaver, and the controversy continues over Serenity's newest crew member. Plus: River gives Mal a startling prediction.

Point of No Return, Part V
Jayne's plan backfires big-time; Kaylee is rescued by an unlikely hero with a troubled past; Book and Wash have words; and Mal considers a change of heart.

Point of No Return, Part IV
Simon tries to figure out River's relationship with his newest patient; Mal has a hard time trying to figure Inara out; and a simple job goes south in a hurry.