Point of No Return, Part VI
Sunday, June 5, 2005

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.


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 PG for creepy imagery and a couple of Chinese cuss words.

“Point of No Return, Part VI”

***** *****

Zoe was on her way to the galley when she heard the heavy crash coming from the direction of the cargo bay. She moved double-time toward the sound, one hand on the knife she kept sheathed at the side of her leg at all times, even on the ship, ready for anything at a moment’s notice. But when she emerged at the top of the bay area and looked out at the scene below, she couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

Doc Simon was running circles – no, more like hobbling, given his hurt leg – around the cargo bay, waving a shirt in one hand and a pair of pants in the other, stringing together the most obscene Chinglish she’d ever heard come out of his mouth. The Reaver was leading him on a chase around the room, knocking over empty bins and hiding behind crates. He was stark naked, and apparently not in any hurry to have Simon dress him.

“You need some help doc?” Zoe called from above, stirring the pot. “Want me to call the preacher? Or maybe Jayne?”

“No, thank you, I have it under control,” Simon sounded more than a little irritated. “Come here, you little too zai zi,” he coaxed. Kai stopped and glared at him, crouched like a cornered dog behind a small box. “That’s it, be a good boy. Clothes, see? That’s all. Be good…”

“Ben xi niu he hou,” Kai hissed suddenly before leaping away towards the common area. Simon hopped after him, his leg starting to throb a little. He heard Zoe’s laughter bounce off the walls behind him. “I fail to see the humor,” Simon muttered.

Kai pawed at the bulkhead, finding himself cornered. He turned and regarded Simon desperately, and the doctor thought for all the ‘verse that this creature was going to maul him.

“Um…down boy! Heel!” Simon commanded as though he were training a puppy. To his surprise (and relief) Kai obeyed, plopping his naked butt on the cold floor and crossing his skinny ankles.

“That was easy,” he mused, then became aware of River’s presence at his side.

“I’ll take it from here,” she grinned as she took the clothes from her brother and moved toward the Reaver.

Kai was giving her a lopsided smile. Simon stared open-mouthed at the both of them. It was all too weird.

“A little privacy please, Doctor?” River asked playfully. He warily obliged.


There’s no one can help you.

The boy opened his eyes, but wasn’t sure if he was dead or dreaming. He wasn’t awake, he was sure of that. Because this couldn’t be real. It just couldn’t.

He was in an iron cell, trapped and hungry. He couldn’t move. He figured he was in a coffin. A metal coffin with a small barred window directly in front of his face. Everything was black, except for a small gray light he could see out of the corner of his eye. In the distance there were voices.

There’s no one can help you. Say it.

“There’s no one can help me,” he could only whisper. His throat felt so dry. He was scared, but he couldn’t scream.

He felt something crawl up his leg and looked down. A spider. Its legs pricked him with an odd sensation as it made its way up his chest and rested on his nose. He couldn’t move, but just remained still, losing himself in its evil brown eyes.


“What’d you put in here, melted rubber?” Zoe said in an aside to her husband as she poked at her food with her fork.

“So I haven’t pulled kitchen duty in a while. Sue me,” he hissed softly.

“Your piloting’s better than your cooking, that’s for damn sure,” she made the slightest grin as she reached for a glass of water.

“There musta been at least a dozen of ‘em,” Jayne was saying through a mouthful of fried protein. “I took out four or five before one jumped me from behind. Preacher here took off like a scalded dog.”

“That ain’t how it went down at all and you know it,” Kaylee said quickly, giving Jayne a hard look. “If it weren’t for him goin’ to get Cap’n and Zoe, the both of us would prob’ly still be down there.”

Book smiled at the mechanic. He knew he didn’t need her to defend his integrity against the likes of Jayne, but her doing so helped vindicate him in the eyes of the crew.

Mal looked across the table at Inara, who seemed to be listening to Kaylee’s story with great interest. If she was faking it, he couldn’t tell, and it annoyed him. Woman was too damn hard to read. What he wouldn’t give to know what she was really thinking behind that impeccable smile…

Inara felt Mal’s eyes on her and purposely avoided making contact. “So I hear there was an explosion,” she said.

“Weren’t my fault,” said Jayne.

“Lit up that mine like daylight,” Kaylee said, ignoring him. “It was small, though. Nobody died, thank goodness. Well…at least none of the workers died.”

“That is a good thing…” Inara’s voice trailed off as she looked up.

Mal thought she was looking at him, and then realized that the others were also staring behind him. He turned.

Kai was, more or less, standing in the doorway, an arm draped over River’s shoulders, her hand across his stomach. It took Simon a moment to realize that Kai was leaning on her for support as she helped him down the steps. He was dressed in the clothes Simon had been trying to get him to put on earlier; a grey long-sleeved cloth shirt and plain dark-green pants from the doctor’s own wardrobe. They fit him nearly perfectly since he and Simon were about the same size, though the Reaver was a little skinnier. His feet were still bare.

When the two had fully entered the room, River looked around. “Not enough chairs,” she said with a shrug. She let go of Kai and grabbed a couple of plates. He sank to the floor, looking up at each person in turn, meeting each gaze with his own, reading the expression on each face…suspicion, disbelief, awe, disgust, curiosity. He looked at the Captain last, making brief eye contact before lowering his head.

River returned and handed him a plate of food before sitting herself on the floor beside him. He looked at her, not understanding. She took a handful of her own meal, and as if giving a demonstration, ate from her hand. The creature tried to follow her example, opening his mouth wide and shoveling in a chunk of protein.

“Gaaa…” he spat, making a weird face as he let the food fall from his tongue.

“Everybody’s a critic,” Wash cracked.

“I’m glad you decided to let him stay, Captain,” Book said, trying, in his own way, to soothe the tension that had gripped the dining room upon Kai’s entrance.

“He’ll stay long enough to get fully mended. That’s all,” Mal said, resentful that Book thought his approval had anything to do with his decision.

“Just what I always wanted,” said Simon. “A pet Reaver.”

Inara looked from River to Kaylee. She could no longer hide her concern. “He’s too dangerous, Mal,” she said with uncharacteristic emotion. “He can’t stay on the ship.”

“Since when is it your call to say who comes and goes on my boat?” he nearly shouted, finally letting the anger and sadness get the best of him. “And since when do you care? You’re leaving anyway. Couple of days, it won’t be your concern.”

There was dead silence. Time seemed to come to a screeching halt. For moments, neither captain nor companion noticed the shocked looks coming from everyone else. It was just the two of them, eyes locked in fury and passion. They both felt the same thing. They wanted to scream. To apologize. Kill each other. Cry.

“Crying is useless,” Kai whispered. No one heard him but River.

It was Kaylee who broke the silence. “That true, Inara?” she said, her eyes becoming damp. “You’re leaving Serenity?”

Inara glanced at each of them individually. She wanted to tell them that this wasn’t something she wanted to do, but something she had to do. It was for the best, she knew. But she couldn’t bring herself to say it. She didn’t have the strength. She – who had, time and again, faced danger with a resolve and determination found lacking in most men – did not have the strength to face her friends. Mal had sapped the courage from her. It took all she had to slowly rise from her chair and silently, gracefully, leave the room. It wasn’t until she was safe in her shuttle, alone, that the stone walls around her heart finally crumbled. She collapsed on the bed, weeping into the soft sheets, not wiping the tears that had been weeks in coming.

After she left, Mal poked at his uneaten food for a few more minutes, then he suddenly got up, took his plate to the sink, and retreated to his own cabin. Everyone looked at each other in bewilderment. No one said anything else for the rest of the night.


“Why do you have to go?” Kai sulked, not understanding.

Xian Liu Wong peered over his glasses at his twelve-year-old son. “Because,” he explained patiently, “It’s our duty. It’s best for everyone.”

“But what about me and Wei and Sunny?”

“Sunyi will take care of you while we’re gone,” Liu said. “You be sure to listen to her. And take care of your brother.”

“But I don’t want to take care of him,” Kai’s voice went up. “I want to be with you. Why can’t I go with you?”

“Son, you have to understand,” the boy’s father said, shifting his weight on the edge of his son’s bed, “Your mother and I are soldiers. And we’re going to a place that’s not good for kids to be. But you need to know,” he added quickly, “that no matter where we go, or what happens, you and your brother and your sister will always be with us.”

“How?” Kai asked.

Liu took the boy’s hand and laid it on the center of his chest. “You’ll be right here. In our hearts.”

He hugged his son tightly, ignoring the immense wave of anxiety that washed over him. Liu was well aware that this could possibly be the last night he’d get to spend with his children, and he didn’t want to waste it on sad thoughts. He kissed his son on the forehead. “Live well, Xian Kai Rui,” he said, then tucked him in, turned out the light and left the room.

Kai was frustrated. It wasn’t fair. He lay awake in his bed for hours, wishing he could think of a way to make them stay. Sleep finally overtook him. When he awoke the next morning, his parents were gone for good.


Inara looked out the shuttle window at what there was to see of Janus’ landscape. The bright lights of the port reflected into the red crystal sea, and even though it was almost midnight on this side of the planet, the lights made it easy to see. The scene was eerily enchanting. She might have even thought it beautiful, but she wasn’t here for a pleasure tour.

Her belongings were neatly packed, her furniture broken down and waiting to be hauled off. She was dressed in a light-blue sari, comfortable and not at all flashy. It wasn’t until she felt the familiar soft thud of Serenity’s landing that she realized she was holding her breath.

“Focus,” she intoned calmly. This was for the best. She sighed as she gave one last look around the shuttle that had been her home for more than a year.

No turning back now. Inara opened the door to leave.

River was standing directly in the doorway, steely eyes shimmering intently from under dark, untamed hair. Inara gasped.

“River,” the companion caught her breath. “You startled me.”

“You have to watch out for him,” River said in a pleading tone.

“The captain’s a big boy,” Inara patronized. “I’m more than certain he can watch out for himself.”

River shook her head hard. That wasn’t what she meant. “No…I mean, you can’t go.”

“It’s for the best,” Inara said automatically.

Again River shook her head. That wasn’t what she meant, either. The pictures were jumbled. Not all the pieces were hers. “Static in the radio,” she said aloud, holding her palm to her temple. She looked again at Inara. “You can’t trust him.”

The older woman stopped. “That’s not it, River,” she said. “It’s myself I can’t trust.”

River gave up. She couldn’t make her comprehend. Everything was hazy and she couldn’t explain because the words were too slow in coming. Inara saw the girl’s confused look, and her heart went out to her. She gave her a long hug before finally making her way across the catwalk, down the steel steps, and out to the bay door.

Most of the crew was already there to meet her, along with the workers she’d contracted to move her belongings. She indicated to them where her things were kept, and they went off to the shuttle. Inara then turned and faced the crew, her friends, the closest people she’d had to family during her time out in the black.

Inara looked each of them over. Book, Wash, and Zoe were there. Jayne took off his hat as a sign of respect. Kaylee was crying. Simon held her hand, and behind him even Kai looked a little solemn.

“Wish you’dve told us before,” Wash said. “We’ve have thrown you a proper goodbye party.”

“But, as it is,” Book continued, “We want you to know we care. So, please accept these as tokens of our friendship. Let us never forget our time together.”

As the shepherd spoke he produced a small black book and offered it to her. ‘Meditations’ was embossed on the cover in simple gold lettering. It was a volume she hadn’t read before. She smiled.

“This is from both of us,” Zoe said as Wash handed her a beautiful red cotton blanket, neatly folded and freshly starched. “It was a wedding gift,” she added.

“I couldn’t,” Inara started, but Wash cut her off. “It’d mean a lot to us if you were to have it.”

The companion was at a loss for words. She nodded in thanks.

Jayne gave her one of his favorite hats. It was made of rough hide, a hideous shade of brown, and the floppy dog ears made Inara laugh. She gracefully accepted it to avoid hurting his feelings, even trying it on and modeling it for everyone else to see. They all laughed. Jayne gave her a dopey smile.

Finally Kaylee wiped her tears and held out a wreath of dried flowers. “Simon helped make it,” she said. “Hope you find room to put it somewhere.”

Inara was stunned. “Kaylee, it’s gorgeous. Where in the world did you find all these flowers?”

“Oh, just picked ‘em here and there, wherever we went planetside. I guess I just didn’t have the heart to throw ‘em all away.” Kaylee’s voice started to quiver. “Glad I could…um…find a use for ‘em.” Fresh tears started to stream down her face. Inara hugged her tight.

“No matter where I go,” the companion said softly, “I will always have room for it.”

The others couldn’t see it, but Inara’s heart was heavy in her chest. She gave each of them a hug, exchanging goodbyes and well-wishes. The movers carried the last of Inara’s belongings out the door.

It was finally time to go. Inara stepped off Serenity for what she knew would be the last time.

She turned for one more look. She expected – no, that wasn’t right. She hoped Mal would come, swaggering down that ramp the way he always did, and face her. He wouldn’t have to say anything; just let them see each other one more time before they went their separate ways. She ached to believe, to know that there were no hard feelings.

But Mal never came. He wasn’t the type for goodbyes, she knew. She tried not to hold it against him. It was just as well not to further confuse a situation that was complicated to begin with.

Inara waved. The crew waved back. She turned and followed the movers to the station, and just like that, she was gone.

She never realized that Mal was, in fact, watching her from an elevated spot on the catwalk where she hadn’t noticed him. He watched her walk off his boat and out of his life for good. He couldn’t go down to say goodbye. He wasn’t the goodbye type. He didn’t want her to leave, but didn’t know how to make her stay. So, he stood apart from the rest, leaning onto the rail for dear life, watching as she disappeared into the lights. He suddenly experienced an emptiness he couldn’t put into words.

Mal felt a slight hand rest on top of his. River. Mal looked at her. The girl had an odd expression that shifted from confused…to sad…to afraid. Then an enigmatic smile spread across her lips. Her eyes met the captain’s, and she leaned closer to him as if she were a mischievous child about to share a secret.

“She’ll be back,” River said simply, then spun on her tiptoes before going down to meet the rest of the crew.


Monday, June 6, 2005 7:57 AM


Very shiny, especially River. Love how she connects with poor Kai and I could feel the shock then sadness of Inara leaving. Can't wait for the next part! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 10:18 PM


my god. im gunna cry.
my only comfort was rivers "she'll be back"

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 1:56 AM


Oh my - is there anything you can't do? The emotion in this chapter hit me like a sledgehammer - and all the harder because you didn't overdo it. From the dread and fear of (presumably) Kai and the spider to Mal's painfully muted response to Inara's departure ... Perfect.

Sunday, July 16, 2006 12:54 AM


That was awesome, i wish that i could see some of these stories come to the screen. You see only firefly could have this level of fan fiction.


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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.