You Can't Go Home Again: Chapter 6
Sunday, January 1, 2006

River and Johnny make peace in the morning, and Simon gives comfort to Regan in more ways than one.


Hey all. It's me, the J.D. Salinger of Firefly fanfic authors. Just so that there's something to tide you guys over, here's not one but two new chapters. They're shorter than what I had planned , but when I post the whole Big Damn Thing as one major fanfic, I'll rearrange the sections. Credit must be given to misskitten who helped me out with the first section.


BTW, the song that Johnny is singing is called "Paranoia" by Sam Roberts.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The sun had been up for a while behind the overcast weather by the time River woke up. A beam of dull light shined through the windows of the loft, lightly illuminating the large, cluttered room. As she glanced around, she saw that Keith was laying flat on one of the ratty couches; George and Cliff were each curled up on separate recliners, and The Dude was sleeping peacefully on his cot in the corner.

She had taken up residence on another old couch, her guitar close to her like a stuffed animal. They had played for a few more hours after that first song together, establishing the dynamics of their sound, and establishing exactly what kind of a band they wanted to be. Johnny, in one of the few times he spoke, said that they should be first and foremost a political band. To “give a voice to the fucked over generation we’re a part of and say what we’ve all been wanting to say.” Keith countered that while they should have a political edge, they should also throw in some general “good times” song in there to balance out the political rhetoric. “They already know they’re being screwed over. What they need to know is that there’s something to live for.” River kept out of these debates, still unsure as to whether or not this applied to her as well. After some debates as to whether this move would be considered prematurely selling out, they resumed their impromptu rehearsals. And after a while, they decided to take a break, which lead to them sleeping off their exhaustion.

She sat up and took in the environment. Johnny was missing. Ever so slightly, she could hear the strumming of an acoustic guitar outside. She followed the notes, which lead her to the fire escape next to the window. She poked her head out, but saw that no one was there. The notes seemed to be coming from the roof. She climbed out and began to ascend the metal staircase. She only went up one flight before she saw what was going on.

Johnny was sitting on the ledge of the roof, singing along to an acoustic beat that he was strumming. As she got closer, she noticed that he too was also playing an Allen One guitar. It was dark green, as opposed to the cherry red model she was used to playing. Johnny paid no attention to her as he continued playing, already halfway through the slow and steady song.

“He’s got kung-fu grooves that can never be…imitated….She’s got a fashion queen walk and she wears her blue jeans faded…He’s got moves with a puck that we never ever seen…and his girlfriend’s 22 and he’s just 17…and she gives advice…that’ll ease your paranoia.” He switched to play a mellow electric theme and continued the beat before going into the solo. River merely let the slight breeze flow through her hair as she tapped to beat with her fingers on the concrete ledge.

Johnny then stopped and looked over at River. “Just for the record, this song ain’t about you.”

“I know,” she replied. “And for the record, I don’t like grunge.”

He furrowed his eyebrows. “Really? Why’s that?”

She shrugged. “Too depressing. Like something with more energy.”

Johnny raised his eyebrows as he put the guitar aside. “Figured you be more into grunge, given your background. You know, what with all the constant pain and living out there in the big nothing.”

“We call it The Black.”

Johnny countered. “It’s not totally black, if you think about it. It’s filled with stars and other celestial anomalies. The Big Nothing would be more appropriate, not to mention sound cooler.”

River nodded at this and looked out over the buildings that made up the urban environment that she was starting to get used too.

“Why did you feel it necessary to tell me you’re not into grunge?” He asked.

“If we’re gonna be co-fronting the band, then we might as well make clear our influences and likes and dislikes.”

“I thought you hadn’t decided whether or not you want the gig.”

River smiled. “I’m weighing my options. Outside of grunge, china-doll, and heavy metal, I’m for anything and everything. Most of the time it’s the legends, although I’ve been branching out into punk. But I do enjoy some country and mindless pop.”

Johnny looked at her in a surprised fashion. She looked over at him and shrugged.

“Hey, you can’t be all doom and gloom all the time. You gotta give the audience something to enjoy listening to.”

“And you would know this how?”

“The crew I ship with. They like it when I vary the music that wakes them up every morning. Captain likes some dark country interspersed with the legends, and my mei-mei-in-law loves the silly little love songs as well as some pop.”

Johnny smiled. “Sound’s like you have a good gig going along with them.”

River nodded at this. “Yes. And in more ways than you’ll ever know.”

“So why you hanging out with us losers?”

River laughed at this. It sounded so much like something Wash would say. After a few moments of laughing, she quieted down and looked at Johnny. “This is the first time in a long time that I’ve been on my own. Making my own choices as to the overall flow of my life. I’m just going where the dominoes fall and those dominoes have led me to you guys.”

Johnny had an uneasy smile on his face. He looked down and said something very quietly.

“I know. I’d be hostile towards you if you showed up randomly and threatened to take my place.”

“Only I wouldn’t be able to kill you with my pinkie like you could. I’m just a bit wired that way.”

River looked away and closed her eyes. She searched Johnny with her brain and was startled to see familiar sights.

"Abused..." she muttered.”Mother left... Father hurt you... Then fire... Scars burned you deeper." Her eyes opened and she glanced at his instrument. "Guitar was your escape." Johnny looked down at his instrument. "Yeah, that's my story. That and a stint in juvie as well.” He looked back up to her. “Ain't nothin compared to what you went through, so I shouldn't really complain."

Despite the serious topic, she couldn't help, but shoot him a ‘you're being silly’ look. "Pain is pain. Can't be measured."

"No", Johnny replied, "but it can be put to good use in singing about what gave you that pain in the first place." River nodded at this. "Can't be all pain, you know. Sometimes it's ecstasy you sing about." Johnny scoffed at this. "Never sang because I was happy, I can tell you that right now."

"But you will." River proclaimed this simply, with the traces of a knowing smile on her lips.

Johnny cocked an eyebrow. "I will, will I? And what makes you so sure about that?"

"You will sing with me."

"Yeah, that is a given. We are co-fronting the band." He gave her a "you think I'm a idiot, don't you" look.

She laughed at this. "Not what I meant."

"So what did you mean? Is this some kind of riddle I have to figure out, because I havn't had my coffee or cigarettes yet, so I'm not in the mood for a brain buster."

"My mood infects." River shrugged. "And I plan on being happy."

Johnny was surprised by this statement coming from her. "How can you be happy? With all the shit that's happened to you and the entire galaxy nearly bankrupt, I kinda find it hard to be in a jolly mood."

Her eyes met his and she smiled. "I found Serenity."

Johnny was confused at first as to what she meant by that. But as he was about to ask her, he saw a glint in her eyes that more or less explained what she had found. "I think I get it now. Let's hope everyone else out there gets it too."

Johnny shrugged and swung around so that he could stand up on the roof. “Well, we should probably go back down. The Dude usually likes to take us out to breakfast, ‘fore we rehearse some more.”

River and Johnny got up and moved towards the fire exit staircase. As they descended, River suddenly realized something. “I don’t know your name.”

“Yeah you do. I’m Johnny.”

“Yes, but not your full name.”

Johnny looked away with a look on his face as if he were trying to avoid something. “It’s a dumbass name that I’ve been trying to live down.”

“It can’t be that bad.” Johnny looked at her with an expression that said it was. “Well come one, what is it?”

Johnny looked away and said through his teeth, “Full name is Jonathan Brian Goode.”

River processed this, and then failed to repress a long, deep, belly laugh.

“Shut up.” Johnny replied as they stepped through the window and back into the building.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Simon stirred as the dull light from outside inched across his face. He opened his eyes and sat up. He rubbed his eyes and looked around the sparse room that he and Kaylee were sleeping in. He remembered that this room used to be his room. The bed was a few feet away from where his bed was set up in when he was a child. It was strange to feel that the room that had been his childhood sanctuary no longer had that sense of protection it used to have. It was just another room to him.

He swung around and got out of bed, making sure not to wake Kaylee. He grabbed his medical bag, which concealed his and her toiletries as well as the usual med kit supplies and headed towards the door, on his way to one of the many bathrooms that was down the hall. As he closed the door, Simon looked across the hall to his mother’s room. He sighed in regret, as he realized that he hadn’t really treated or even talked to her since yesterday. He tip toed across the hall and lightly knocked on the door.


A light moan was heard through the wood of the door. Simon opened the door, and upon seeing what had happened, he bolted.

Regan had fallen out of bed. The white sheets were wrapped around her, tangling her in pain. One of the drawers was open, and Regan was trying to reach it. Simon rushed to her side and kneeled down, instinctually checking the more vulnerable areas to see if she was hurt. “Mom? Are you all right?” he asked in a tone that was as concerned as it was fearful.

“I’m fine.” She said, gritting her teeth in pain. “Just trying to get to my medicine.”

“You should have called me.” He said with the nerve of a doctor as he helped her back up into bed. ”You’re in no position to try to move.” After he got her back into bed, with the sheets loosely covering her as she reclined into her pillows, he looked into the drawer and pulled out the bottles of pills. He checked the labels and shook his head disapprovingly.

“Aspirin? You’re dying of leukemia, and Dad has you taking watered down, drugstore aspirin?”

“Only thing that was available that we could afford. The prescription medications got to be too expensive.”

“Doesn’t your health insurance cover your prescriptions?”

Regan scoffed at that idea. “I’m afraid that “total economic breakdown” isn’t one of the things covered in our premiums.”

Simon then put aside the aspirin bottle and opened his medical bag. “It’s a good thing that I brought these with me then.” He took out a needle, a bottle of pills and a vial of clear liquid and placed them on the table. Regan furrowed her eyebrows as he took out a long rubber tube as he set his medical bag to the ground.

“Didn’t you use to have a red plastic kit?”

Simon looked at her as he began to fill the needle with the clear fluid. “Yes. But Jayne accidentally ran over it once with the mule, so I picked this up at a bazaar.” He chuckled as he remembered Kaylee’s joy over seeing it for the first time. “Kaylee thought it was the cutest thing she saw me hold. Said I looked like a real country doctor.”

Regan smiled softly at this, but her eyes betrayed her as she showed regret in them. Simon didn’t notice this as he tapped the side of it to get the bubbles out and then wrapped the tube around her right forearm.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Morphine. It’s the only bit of it that I have, so unfortunately you’ll have to take these pills as well. They’ll prolong the effects of the morphine for about two hours.”

Simon then tightened the tube around his mother’s arm, making sure that it was snug enough, but not too tight to cause her more pain than was necessary. She gasped when he inserted the needle into her vein and injected the serum into her bloodstream. As he removed the needle and released the tube, he pressed down on the cotton ball to keep her from bleeding even more than if she wasn’t running the risk of bleeding to death. The room was silent with the exception of her shallow breathing. The awkwardness between them was starting to make the atmosphere unbearable. After a few strained moments, Regan decided to break the silence with a question that had been on her mind.

“Were we that bad as parents?”

Simon blinked in surprise. “Shenme?”

Regan breathed in deeply and began to express what had been bothering her for a while. “I’ve been watching your wedding video every day for the last few weeks since Mr. Anyong left us a copy of it for us to watch. All in all, I was very happy with the whole thing. Seeing that you and River were all right and surviving on your own out in the Outer Rim made me feel better for the first time in four years. But there was one thing that’s been bothering me.” She sighed and took another deep breath. “In the video, you made a comment about us. You said that Serenity had become more of a home to you in two years than this home ever was your whole life.”

Simon sat back, surprised that she remembered that one specific detail, as well as feeling slightly guilty that he said it, now that she had seen and heard him say it two years ago.

Regan continued. “I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty. Considering what had happened, you have the full right to think and say it. But I’m wondering if you would still say that even if River never went there. If you were still working at General. Would you still say that we were horrible parents?”

Before Simon could respond, Regan interrupted him and continued, “Because, and correct me if I’m wrong, I honestly felt that we did a very good job as parents. Yes, we had servants and a nanny to help with your upbringings, but I remember that both Gabriel and I made an effort to be the best parents possible. When you were babies, I never let someone else do the mothering. When you were older, no matter what Gabriel was working on, he always found time to play with you and engage your intelligence. I always tried to be a good role model for River. Gabriel might have been a bit strict with you two, but I was always a bit indulgent to your desires when I felt it was well earned. And any time you and her had problems; I would always be there to help you out and to guide you and your sister morally.”

“We were very close as a family. For sixteen years or so, we did everything we could to be the best parents that we could. So should all of that be destroyed because we made a mistake?”

If Gabriel had said that to him, Simon would’ve erupted and turned it into another screaming match between him and his father. But coming from his mother who was dying of leukemia, genuinely remorseful of her mistakes and quite possibly would never hold her granddaughter in her arms, Simon couldn’t help himself but feel saddened for both his mother and himself, as well as angry over how lightly she had described what had happened to River.

“I can’t.”

“You can’t what?”

“I can’t disregard what happened. I can’t pretend or imagine that it didn’t happen because it did. Remember when I showed you the letters River sent me, the ones with all the spelling mistakes? I kept thinking that if you were real parents, you would know that your daughter making a spelling mistake would be a clear sign that something is wrong. But you just passed it off as just another game between her and me.”

Regan countered at this. “I honestly thought it was a game between the two of you. You two basically had your own language that you spoke to each other with.” She stopped to catch her breath, and then continued in a calm tone. “You have to understand. When you and River grew up, and we saw how far advanced both of you were mentally, we honestly felt overwhelmed. It’s a startling idea, that your children were already surpassing your intelligence. Most of the time, we were just trying to keep up with you two, River especially. When we heard about the Academy, it seemed too good to be true. You might not be able to understand it now, but as a parent you’ll try anything that comes across your way to help you out.”

“I wouldn’t send Brooke to a school that was shrouded in secrecy. I would make an honest effort in trying to figure out who exactly my daughter was. I wouldn’t place my social standing over the well being of my children.” Simon was tapping into his anger towards his parents over the whole thing. He would have continued with this if he didn’t notice that this was giving his mother more pain than the symptoms. He had done it again. He thought he had licked this problem with Kaylee, but it seemed to come naturally to him to say the most hurtful things unintentionally to the women he loved. He looked at her with apologetic regret.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry for having to say those things, but you of all people would have to realize the truth in that.”

“I have.” She whispered to him. “And it’s that truth that makes me think that I’ve forever failed you as a mother. And that thought is killing me more than the leukemia, Simon.”

Simon swallowed as he felt the lump in his throat that had been growing since he had given her the medication. “Up until the Academy, you had never failed as a mother.” As she looked at him in a new way, he sat up and began talking.

“I remember how whenever I had a bad day at school, you would always take the time to listen and talk to me about what was bothering me. I remember when River was a baby you showing me how to hold her and change her and to take care of her. I remember how when Dad would tell us to go to bed when River and I were playing a game, you would always be behind him, telling him to let us stay up for another hour or half hour. And I particularly remember that one charity drive you took me to. I must have been four or five. You were pregnant with River at the time, and you bought all these really expensive toys at this toy store around Christmas. But instead of giving them to me, you took me to a community hall and gave them all out to these poor children. And after you were done, I asked you “Why did you do this?” And you said something that I still remember. You said ‘Because it’s our responsibility as human beings to do what is right.’ I think that was one of the reasons I became a doctor. To show you that I was responsible enough to do what was right.” Simon paused as both of them realized the tragedy of that line.

“I can’t ignore what happened with River, but I also can’t ignore all that you’ve done for us beforehand. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s all that I can really say.”

Simon patted her hand with his and then stood up. He went to the door and exited the room, resuming his path to the bathroom. He thought to himself, “This is not how I wanted to start today.”


Sunday, January 1, 2006 4:58 PM


I said it before and I'm saying it now. I think you did a real well job on that Simon and Regan confrontation. It's bittersweet and couldn't really be done another way.

Sunday, January 1, 2006 11:39 PM


I really liked Simon's talk with Regan. It was a long time coming. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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You Can't Go Home Again - Chapter 15
Kaylee goes into labor. Hilarity and drama ensues.

You Can't Go Home Again - Chapter 14
Wash and Shooter discuss death and dinosaurs, Gabriel tells Kaylee about Regan, River brings her family together one last time, and Simon and Kaylee face an uncertain future.

You Can't Go Home Again - Chapter 13
Everyone returns to the mansion, Johnny helps a grieving River with some Van Morrison, and Gabriel asks Mal to end it all.

You Can't Go Home Again - Chapter 12
Gabriel is confronted by his family with the news, Kaylee makes a call to Inara, some unexpected guests arrive, and Gabirel is confronted by a familiar demon.

You Can't Go Home Again - Chapter 11
Signal rocks the house, Regan makes a realization, and three major things happen to River in the span of half an hour.

You Can't Go Home Again: Chapter 10
The Tams make their way to the Metro, Johnny get's spiritual clarity with the help of thousands, River plays a favorite of hers, and Simon and Kaylee go on a long delayed date.

You Can't Go Home Again Chapters 6-9
The next day of Simon, River and Kaylee's journey to the Core. Simon comforts Regan in more ways than one, Kaylee makes some figurative and literal repairs of her own, River and Johnny go from the top of a warehouse building to front and center of the Metro in less than 24 hours, and Regan shows it's never to late to make things right.

You Can't Go Home Again Chapters 1-5
Set after THE SERENITY GIG, BLUE HAND BLUES and SHOTGUN TAM, this story takes place in an AU where the BDM never happened, although there will be refrences to it. With the social and economic breakdown of the Alliance, the Tam's are finally free. But a message from home forces them to deal with a larger issue at hand.

You Can't Go Home Again: Chapter 9
The Metro opens its doors, Kaylee sees what she's dreamed of, and the first rock concert in two hundred years goes under way with an updated classic.

You Can't Go Home Again: Chapter 8
This is the all singing, no dancing chapter as River and the band play in public for the first time and tap into something big. The Tam's and Kaylee get wind of this and round two of the fight is interrupted by an unexpected source.