A Lonely Road: Part Two
Saturday, October 8, 2005

Part two: where Simon looks after Mal, Inara makes an announcement and Kaylee doesn’t take it all that well...


A/N: See part one for disclaimers etc. Also, there are some indications of slash in this chapter but nothing more than that. ---------------------------------------

Part two: where Simon looks after Mal, Inara makes an announcement and Kaylee doesn’t take it well ---------------------------------------

Mal blinked slowly against the bright neon light shining overhead. It told him he was in the infirmary, a conclusion that was quickly confirmed when he carefully turned his head to the right and saw Simon sitting in the chair next to the stretcher, dozing.

“Ow,” Mal muttered when the movement caused a sharp burning pain to shoot from his gut up and down his spine like a lightning bolt.

“You’re awake,” Simon said, instantly up and reaching for the monitors next to Mal’s sickbed so he could check his vitals. “I was getting concerned; you’ve been out for sixteen hours straight.”

“What went down? I get shot again?” the captain asked drowsily and in a slightly slurred voice.

“Yes I’m afraid so, but you’ll be just fine,” Simon answered him with a little smile.

“Fine, huh? Is that why you’re sitting next to my bed like a watchdog?” Mal replied dryly. He smiled inwardly. He’d never admit it but he had taken a liking to the good doctor.

Simon looked at the monitors and smiled. “Well, I figured you wouldn’t want to be alone when you woke up.” For a moment, Mal thought he saw the doctor blush a little, but then Simon looked up and went on in that matter-of-factly tone he only seemed to have while he was mending folk. “Jayne, Kaylee and the Shepherd are trying their best to fix the leak. The others…” Simon hesitated for a second. “Well, we ran into an Alliance Cruiser a short while ago.”

Mal noticed that the doctor was looking even paler than usual; the young man was nervous as hell about being found by the Alliance. “Wash, Zoe and Inara are on the bridge right now… We’ve been hailed, so they’re doing what they can to negotiate…” Simon said reluctantly.

As Simon had expected, Mal immediately started to get up, only to be pushed down again by Simon’s careful but surprisingly firm touch. He winced as Simon’s hand pressing against his shoulder made the stabbing pain shoot through his body again, but didn’t let it show. He didn’t want to worry Simon about something that wasn’t all that big of a deal -- he’d been shot before. On the other hand, it was kinda nice to have the good doctor fuss over him like that. Hardly anyone ever did.

“Ow,” he muttered softly.

“Sorry captain, but you really need to lie down. But… if it’ll make you feel better, I can go up to the bridge, ask Zoe what’s happening and come back to tell you?”


Mal answered him while leaning back, closing his eyes and letting out a deep sigh. “That’d be mighty nice, doctor,” he said, stifling a yawn. Simon started to step out of the infirmary when the captain’s voice told him to hold it right there.

“Simon.” Simon turned on his heel, a bit surprised to hear Mal say his name instead of calling him ‘doctor’, like he usually did. He didn’t know why it sounded so pleasant to his ears, but somehow it did.

“Yes, Mal.”

“Don’t dope me again. Shotwound or no, I have to captain a ship and I’m… I’m…” And with that, he passed out.


“Hi, Zoe, how are we doing?” Simon asked her as he walked onto the bridge where Zoe, Wash and Inara were crowding around the screens.

“Why, taking an interest in letting the Alliance know your whereabouts, doctor?” Zoe replied in a soft voice while she quickly steered him away from the screens so he wouldn’t be seen on the monitors. Simon felt like kicking himself.

“I’m sorry. It’s just that I promised the captain I’d come and see what’s going on,” he said apologetically.

“Don’t worry, it’s not that bad. Leave Inara to her tactics and she’ll have them convinced to let us walk within the next half hour,” Zoe said. There was not a hint of stress in her voice.

“Wow. That’s great…” Simon said, a little surprised. “Could you go tell Mal what’s happening? I really need to check up on River; she had some kind of episode back in that canyon. I had to see to Mal but he’s stable now and I’d like to find out what happened. Besides, I had to ask Jayne to take her to our quarters, which is terrifying enough in itself.

Zoe couldn’t help but grin. “Right. Better go look after her before Jayne sustains any major injuries. I’ll go see to our captain.”


When Simon arrived at the passenger dorms, he found Jayne sitting outside of River’s room, cleaning one of his guns. Simon blinked in confusion but kept his face a calm blank.

“She’s asleep, doc,” Jayne said casually and without looking up as Simon walked past him.

“Uhm, well… thank you for your concern, Jayne, but I really should examine her to find out what happened to her back on Beaumonde.”

Jayne looked up at him and for a moment Simon saw a look in the other man’s eyes that he couldn’t quite place. If he didn’t know any better, he would’ve thought it might have been compassion. Before he could take a second look, however, Jayne had gone back to cleaning his gun with his usual grim expression on his face.

Simon softly opened the door to River’s room but he immediately realized he shouldn’t have bothered, because the moment the door slid closed behind him, he saw her open her eyes in the half-dark of the room. She sat up quickly and scooted over so he could sit down next to her. Simon noticed her eyes were red and puffy from crying herself to sleep; the sight gave him a pang in his gut.

“Mei mei, what happened back there?” he asked, while gently stroking her hair. River closed her eyes and shrugged, keeping her lips firmly together. Simon let out a sigh.

“River, you have to tell me what happened or I won’t be able to help you,” he said. She just stared at him with eyes that were full of unbearable sadness, making Simon feel like an ice cold hand had closed tightly over his heart.

“You can’t help,” she said solemnly. “It’s worse if you help, because everything is jaded and bloody,” she continued, the anguish rising in her voice and welling up on her face. “And there’s so much death, death and betrayal…” She started sobbing uncontrollably, flinging her arms around her brother’s neck.

Simon just held her until she’d calmed down. Finally, she pulled back, wiped her face with her sleeve and locked eyes with him. “You have to go now,” she said pleadingly. He nodded, he knew better than anyone else that it was better to give her what she needed when she was like this.

“All right. Just- just try to get some sleep. Okay, River?” he told her softly, and gave her a kiss on the forehead before he walked out of the room. Simon let out a deep sigh. River had improved so much over the last couple of months that it was incredibly frustrating to see her slide back like this… He felt so utterly helpless that he had to do something, so he decided to head back to the infirmary to check up on the captain. At least that was something he could actually do… What was he on the ship, if he wasn’t a doctor and brother, he thought with another resigned sigh.


“I’m well aware that it sounds suspicious,” Inara’s voice drifted towards him from the infirmary. Simon stopped dead in his tracks and waited on the other side of the sliding doors. “So you don’t think for a second that the Alliance believed my story and simply let us walk?”

“Not if I know the Alliance at all,” Mal said.

"It's not in the Alliance's nature to let anyone walk," Zoe said

Mal sighed. “Either there was something urgent or more important that came up, or there’s something else that we don’t know about yet, that they got up their sleeve…”

“Could be they already know Simon and River and on board and they’re just biding their time… Do you think we should let the doctor know, sir?” Zoe asked. Simon involuntarily held his breath. If the Alliance had tracked him and River down, they had to leave the ship, right now…

“Best not to worry Simon unless we’re sure of that though,” Mal said. “But just in case, we’ll figure out a plan… as soon as these gorram meds wear off…” He did still sound a bit slurred, Simon thought. Taking a look through one of the windows, he saw that Zoe was checking the monitors while Inara stood next to Mal, holding his hand and looking at him worriedly. Simon felt some kind of strange floppy feeling in the pit of his stomach and before he knew it, he’d opened the door and walked in as casually as he could – which obviously wasn’t a convincing look for him.

“I really must insist that the captain gets his rest,” he said stiffly. Both women nodded and left the room without another word.

“I believe I told you to stay down, captain,” Simon said sternly but with a little smile as he looked at Mal, who was propped up on his elbows. Mal raised his eyebrows but placed himself flat on his back again anyway.

“The I.A.V. didn’t hail us, so you and your sister are safe for now,” Mal went on when he was staring at the ceiling again.

Simon let out a slow breath. Without looking up from the syringe he was filling, he said: “Oh. That’s good… And you have faith that they let us go without any ulterior motives?”

Mal quirked an eyebrow and let out a short laugh, which obviously caused him some pain because it was immediately followed by a grimace. “Ow. If you’re gonna be eavesdropping you might as well come in next time, doctor.” he said with a slight grin.

Simon felt his cheeks redden. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help overhearing -”

“Don’t apologize,” Mal interrupted him. “Concerns you just as much as the rest of us, after all. Maybe more so. Point is, doctor,” he added as he looked Simon in the eye, “you’re both on my crew, and as long as you are I’m not gonna you or your sister get hurt, dong ma?”

Simon nodded and smiled, and for a moment he was really glad River wasn’t in the room to read what he was thinking…


“I have an announcement to make,” Inara said.

“That sounds a mite ominous,” Book said as he set down his fork and looked at Inara with an intent but kind expression on his face. Everyone who was seated at the table -- Wash was on the bridge and River was still asleep -- looked at the Companion expectantly. Everyone except for Mal, who was fiddling with his food and staring at his plate like it was the second coming.

“I’m leaving…” Her voice sounded normal and grounded and her body language was calm, but her eyes darted to each person at the table and lingered on Kaylee, who was frowning.

“For how long?” Kaylee asked carefully, and Inara could tell that she was afraid of what the answer might be.

“When we were on Beaumonde, I paid a visit to the Chapter House, and they assured me that there is a position for me there if I want it. They’re expecting a wave from me tonight to inform them of my decision…” Inara said. The room had fallen so silent that they could hear Wash humming a jaunty tune on the bridge.

Inara looked at all of them in turn. As usual, Simon and Zoe’s faces betrayed no emotion at all. Mal was still staring at his plate. The Shepherd was the only one giving her an encouraging little smile, saying, “It sounds like a wonderful opportunity, child.” Jayne and Kaylee, on the other hand, looked decidedly grim. Jayne opened his mouth to say something, but before he could speak there was a scraping sound as Kaylee pushed her chair back.

“Scuse me, I need to go check on the engine,” she mumbled, biting her lip before hurrying off. Her running footsteps echoed through the silent galley.


“Cap’n?” Kaylee said in a small voice as she climbed down the ladder into Mal’s bunk. Before he could reply, she had already jumped down the bottom three steps. “I went to the infirmary but Simon told me you were back in your bunk. He said to tell you that he’ll be here to check on you later though, so you better be lyin’ down,” she said. Mal was standing at his desk looking through the list of all the repairs Serenity needed. He nodded but didn’t sit down.

“What’s the matter, Kaylee?” he asked her, even though he had a more than good idea what she wanted to talk about, especially as he looked at her. Her eyes were red from crying and even now she could barely stop her lips from trembling.

“Is ‘Nara really leaving?” she asked. She found a chair and sat down, biting her lip and looking up at her captain. “And you knew she was?"

Mal nodded. “I did.” Slowly and carefully he walked up to her and put his hand on her shoulder. “She wanted to tell all o’you herself, when she was sure when she’d be goin’.” He sighed when the usually chatty Kaylee kept her jaw clenched. “Look lil’ Kaylee, we might not understand her decision, but- ”

“Oh, I understand fine!” she spat and got up, swatting away his hand as if it was an annoying little bug. “She’s leaving because of you, isn’t she? Tzao gao, she loves this ship but she just can’t stay!” she shouted. Mal just looked at her, stumped. He’d seen his mechanic get testy before, but he didn’t think he had ever heard her yell, especially not at him.

“This is all your fault,” she continued loudly as she headed for the ladder and stomped up the steps. “You won’t be happy until you chase everyone who cares about you off the ship!” And with that, she was gone and Mal was all alone.


“How are we doing dear?” Zoe asked her husband, putting her arms around his neck and across his chest, and resting her head on his shoulder as he looked out into the black from the pilot’s seat.

“Ah, my beautiful bride. All’s shiny in the ‘verse, at least for now.” He kissed her forearm. “Am I right in thinking that I heard shouting just now? Musta missed something interesting again, huh…”

Zoe smiled slightly and leaned against the console so she was face to face with Wash. “You could say that. Inara’s leaving the ship. For good,” she said calmly, folding her arms.

“Yeah, sh- what? What d’you mean?” he exclaimed. “What brought that about?”

“Didn’t ask, don’t suppose it’s any of our business… She says she’s been offered a great position in the Chapter House on Beaumonde, but I don’t think that’s her reason for going…” She knew she didn’t have to finish her train of thought when Wash nodded. “Anyway, she’s gone into her shuttle to send them a wave right now…”

“So… that yelling I heard…” Wash said cautiously, already knowing the answer.

“That was Kaylee, yes. Yelling at the captain, is my guess… She’s not taking Inara’s decision very well, so I think she just needed to vent her feelings to someone. If I know our Kaylee, she won’t stay angry for long. Still, a crew divided…” Zoe said pensively. Wash flashed her a supportive smile and pulled her onto his lap.

“Don’t fret, lambie-toes, it’ll all work out. We’re not at war, remember?”

Zoe smiled and kissed her husband, even though she wasn’t all that sure about that last part…


“Captain?” Simon stood tentatively at the top of the ladder. He’d seen Kaylee storm past him without saying a word, which was strange enough in itself, maybe even stranger than hearing her yell at Mal, and he had decided to give Mal a few minutes to recuperate before checking on him.

“I’m here doctor. Come on down,” Mal said, and Simon obliged.

“I hope this isn’t a bad time, I heard Kaylee yelling at you and- ”

“Don’t reckon you’re the only one on board this ship that did, doctor. She’ll be fine, we just oughta give her some time to get used to the idea is all. Anyways, I don’t much feel like talking about that just now.”

Simon nodded in understanding and opened his red doctor’s bag. “Don’t worry captain, I won’t bother you for long, I just need to check if you didn’t tear any stitches. Are you in any pain?”

Mal couldn’t help but observe Simon closely while the doctor checked his stitches. He looks exhausted, Mal thought… “No need to check up on me, I’m doing just fine, doctor. So how’s about you sit down for a second? You look as though you might drop to the ground at any time,” he said with a smirk.

To his surprise, Simon nodded and sat down on the chair next to Mal's bed. “You might be right,” he sighed. “It’s just… I spend so much of my time trying to find something that will make River better, and nothing is working…”

Mal frowned. “I thought she was doing a mite better? Saved all our lives getting rid of Jubal Early, didn’t she… Why, is she getting worse again?” the captain asked in his ‘are we gonna have trouble?’-voice.

“She had some kind of fit back on Beaumonde. Zoe called for Jayne as soon as we got into that gunfight. He had to bring River with him because none of the others had returned yet, but while you were getting shot, she collapsed and went into shock…” Simon rubbed his hands over his face. “I just… I just don’t know what else I can do for her.”

Mal smiled inwardly. Poor doctor was always sacrificing himself and never thought it was enough. He put his hand on Simon’s forearm. “You’ve already done plenty, more than most would be prepared to do for their families. I’m sure you’ll get your sister all fixed up soon enough.”

The reassurance seemed to do the doctor some good, Mal thought. Simon put his hand on top of Mal’s and gave him a grateful look. “Thank you, I hope you’re right. That being said,” he continued, “we really should get us more medical supplies. You were very lucky that the bullet didn’t pierce any vital organs. You lost quite a lot of blood. If the wound had been any worse, I might not have been able to help you.”

“Yeah, I feel very lucky,” Mal replied with a chuckle that quickly turned to another grimace of pain.

“What happened back there anyway?” Simon asked as he injected the captain with another dose of painkillers. By the time he and Zoe had gotten back to where she had left Mal, the captain was already crouched behind a rock to avoid the bullets that were flying in his general direction.

“The usual. That hoetze de pigu thought he could cheat us out of good coin and take us out as soon as he had his hands on it,” Mal told Simon with a casual shrug, followed by yet another grimace and a suppressed grunt of pain.

“Right. And he was one of your trustworthy contacts?” Simon replied dryly, an eyebrow raised. “Did he at least tell you where to find that water supplier?”

“No such luck, I’m afraid. And if that supplier is as skittish about getting in the Alliance’s way as Jack claimed he was, he ain’t likely to do business with us now,” Mal said, his voice sounding more tired by the minute. Those gorram drugs must be kicking in again… he thought, muttering to himself but failing to be actually annoyed at the doctor, who was only trying to help.

“I told Zoe to get us to the next border planet with decent supplies, don’t much care who’s selling it. Higher price or not, we need water to keep us going.” He stifled another yawn before he continued. “Might be able to get us some of those medical supplies you’ve been on about while we’re there.”

“That’d be just perfect, captain. Now, you really should get some sleep. The more you rest, the sooner you’ll be back on your feet.”

Mal smiled at a classic example of Simon using his doctor-voice and nodded slightly as his eyelids started to droop. “Sounds like a good plan, doc. I’ll just close my eyes for a second…” he mumbled as he felt sleep overpower him again. He noticed briefly that his hand was still resting on Simon’s arm and that the doctor’s hand was still on top of his. Then he drifted off into a deep and peaceful sleep.

[End of part two]


Sunday, October 9, 2005 1:12 AM


Very good. Poor Kaylee is really not taking Inara's news well, I hope she goes and has a good talk to Inara to find out just why she is going. I am wondering if it is for a reason other than Mal or wanting to take on a good position as in whether she is intending to use that locale to find out what the Alliance are up to in regards to tracking the Tams. Just a thought. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 9:11 AM


Very good reaction out of Kaylee. Very much how I imagine her taking it.


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Tumbling -- Act Three
Inara flirts with a stranger in a bar, and then things start to get weird. M/I and some S/K. Act three of three.

Tumbling -- Act Two
Inara flirts with a stranger in a bar, and then things start to get weird. M/I and some S/K. Act two of three.

Tumbling -- Act One
Inara flirts with a stranger in a bar, and then things start to get weird. M/I and some S/K. Act one of three.

A Lonely Road: part 9
The boys blow hot and cold, Kaylee gets all the good gossip, and the crew goes after River.
(M/S slash).

A Lonely Road: part eight
Things heat up, Kaylee hits Jayne, Badger gets a mite tetchy, and the crew prepares for their hardest job ever.

A Lonely Road: part seven
The Companion does what she does best, escape and rescue ops are set in motion, and hiding in a cave during a snow storm is a Great Plan.

A Lonely Road: part six
The crew has trust issues regarding Jayne, Simon and River get into a peck of trouble, and Mal has to get help from the last person he wants to see...

A Lonely Road: part five
Part five: in which River and Jayne face the inevitable, the cargo is, well... different and Simon makes a very stupid decision. Again.

A Lonely Road: part four
After the wave Mal has received, the long journey through the black makes everyone go a little bit stir-crazy, Simon not in the least...

A Lonely Road: part three
Part three: where Inara leaves, the crewmembers drown their sorrows and things somehow get even worse…