You Can't Go Home Again: Chapter 7
Sunday, January 1, 2006

This is all Kaylee goodness in which she wanders the estate, looks through the past and does some figurative and literal repairs of her own while chatting with her mother-in-law.


Here's the next chapter. Credit must be given to not only KaySky for her contributions to the Kaylee/Regan interaction, but also to ScrewTheAlliance, for his invaluable editiorial comments.

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

Kaylee woke up late to an empty bed the next morning. Simon must have slipped out earlier in the morning, she decided, because she could not find him, River or Gabriel anywhere in the house. Her initial instinct was to find Mal and tell him that they’ve been snatched. But then she realized how silly that sounded now that they were no longer in danger. They just weren’t around.

After getting dressed, she decided to walk around the mansion, feeling a little silly about carrying her toolbox around for security.

She wanted to really see and explore where her husband and sister in law played and grew up. She found it intriguing to get a sense of how the estate had shaped their lives. Perhaps she could figure out how something that should have been so good ended up so bad.

She started off in the main hall of the mansion. She was amazed at just how big the whole place was. Her childhood home could’ve fit into this room itself, with half of the shed. The floor was a dark marble, everything else seemed to be made of oak, which had really detailed carvings all around it with a shiny look to it. There was an elegant, octagonal shaped skylight directly above her that brought a warm light into the house. But the weather was still overcast, so all that could be seen through it was grey.

She walked through the dining room (the plates from the night before were still there with flies beginning to hover around the food), and into the living room. She sat on the expansive sofa couch, and was surprised to discover that Shooter was right. This really was the most comfortable couch she had ever sat on.

She looked around and noticed that even though the room was smaller, it looked similar to all the other rooms she had seen. All oak and veneer. But the time of its eloquence was past, and it now seemed shabby. Maybe without the love of a family to keep it warm, the wood now seemed cold. While the place was in slight disarray, it still seemed so sterile to her. As if you weren’t supposed to know that anyone had lived here. She shook her head in sadness. This place seemed so different from her home. How could any child live in a place like this?

She pulled out a digitext off the bookshelf, looking for clues-this was her family too, now, and she wanted to know more about them. Upon powering up, she saw the title page pop up: “THE TAM FAMILY. 2480-“.

After skipping ahead a few years, lingering to look at some people she didn’t recognize, but was now related to-somehow, she came across a file that said “GABRIEL AND REGAN’S WEDDING.” She smiled as she saw how elaborate the wedding itself had been, and she was impressed at how alive and healthy the two seemed.

She was also slightly startled at how much the two looked like Simon and her on their own wedding day. Gabriel actually looked happy and content as he held young Regan in an embrace during their first dance as husband and wife. She imagined that they must have been thinking that they were the only people in the ‘verse as they held each other in their arms. Did they dream that what they were feeling at that moment would last for the next thirty years? Could they have had any idea the horrors and tragedies that would visit them and their children? And what about her and Simon? Would their love disintegrate over time? Would Simon end up as bitter of an old man as Gabriel? Would she die a slow and horrible death like Regan? Would something terrible happen to Brooke and any other children they might have? Kaylee couldn’t help but feel here eyes water up as these depressing scenarios played through her head. She took some breaths and resolved not to let that happen to them. She rested her right hand on her belly and patted her stretched skin. “Don’t you worry about this. I ain’t gonna let that happen to you.” A small kick from inside made her laugh. Already her daughter was talking back at her.

She skipped ahead with a wicked glee to the file labeled “SIMON.” Maybe there were naked baby-pictures – she HAD to find some naked baby pictures! The first few pictures were of Regan pregnant with him at various stages. Then the first batch of baby pictures. They were of simple things, the kind of stuff any mommy cherished about her baby: mostly just him learning to crawl, and stand, and roll over, that sort of thing. She recognized his blue eyes, sparse hair and large chin that was already pronounced at a young age. She giggled when she saw him in a small white lab-coat with a tiny stethoscope around his neck and a goofy grin on his face. As the pictures progressed, Kaylee was treated to a photographic timeline of his life. He may have grown up, but he still looked the same.

She went back to the main page and accessed River’s file. It started out with more pregnancy pictures of Regan carrying River, and then progressed to the usual baby pictures of River. The thing that caught Kaylee’s attention the most was her eyes. River always had large, brown eyes that seemed to peer into infinity. But even at 3 weeks old, those eyes already seemed to possess a large knowledge of the world around her.

She skipped forward, seeing River age and progress. By two, she was already writing on pieces of paper. By four, she was sitting at a piano bench on a stack of books, reaching with her small arms to the piano keys. By eight, she was in a leotard, performing at some big formal occasion. And by twelve, she was holding up a digitext she had written with an A+ on it from the Alliance Education Board. For the first time, Kaylee had a better understanding of who River was before she was mentally raped by the government, intent on transforming her into a killing machine.

And with the next batch of pictures, she fully understood why Simon did what he did.

The file simple said “S AND R.” All it consisted of were photos of the two together. The first picture she saw was of a five year old Simon holding a baby River in his arms. He was sitting on the exact same couch that she was sitting on now. He was so small that his feet barely reached the edge of the cushions. River was still wrapped in a silk pink blanket, with a small ident tag attached to it. The look of brotherly love on Simon’s face was one of resolve and purpose. As the pictures progressed, she saw the two doing the usual play activities any child would do. They toys, the games and the environment all around them were of an elaborate and rich nature. But the closeness of the two, the humor, the bond and the general love was similar to the bond had with her brothers and sisters. Whether they were reading a storybook, playing in the snow or doing some project together, she saw that the sterile childhood he spoke of hadn’t kept them from indulging in a healthy amount of old-fashioned dirty fun.

The next file was called “FAMILY”. Various pictures of parties, clear days on yachts, nights at the opera, and the annual Christmas portraits were all there. She noticed something peculiar about them. The earlier ones were very warm and happy. But there was a drastic change in tone to later ones, around the time when River was at the Academy and Simon was at the hospital. They seemed more urgent and distant. The newest picture was four years old, and seemed like the last bit of evidence that there even was a family.

She spent the next few hours going through these digital photo albums, glimpsing at the memories of this family that she thought could be fixed like a finicky reactor. After she powered it off, she began wandering the mansion again. She then wandered into the kitchen. It was a room full of white surfaces. As she peered into the fridge, she saw that it was loaded with food, but that it was all rotten and past the various expiration dates. She peered into the open cabinets, but found very little in the way of anything edible. She made her way down a hall, which lead to a side door. She opened it and saw that it was their wine cellar. Rows upon rows of wine racks filled with bottles of red wine were on display. As she checked the labels, she wondered if maybe a bottle of her wine would be a good peace offering for Gabriel. Her foot brushed up against an empty bottle. She looked down and saw that numerous empty bottles were lying on the ground. Corks were strewn around, as Kaylee smelled the faint aromas of wine that tinged the air. Kaylee was surprised by this evidence. She never thought that Gabriel would be an alcoholic.

As she descended further into the cellar, she discovered a door that lead to an underground garage. When she turned on the lights to the place, she noticed a vehicle that was under a canvas tarp. She went over to it and pulled the tarp off. What it revealed made her gasp in delight.

It was a cherry red, 2456 Saturn XR hovercraft. Her brother Mac had pictures of this craft in his room when they were growing up. Amongst collectors, this was one of the Holy Grails of vintage hovercrafts. Only 750,000 of these cars were ever produced. She wondered why such a fancy craft was just sitting there, like some forgotten relic. She opened the door, too excited to care if an alarm went off. She purred when she felt the leather interior. Her heightened hormones, Brooke’s movements and the seats oiled, smooth surface got her excited down in her nether regions. But on breathing in, dust came flowing through her lungs. She coughed, popped the hood and got out. “You’ve been here a while, havn’t ya girl?” Kaylee asked as she went over and lifted the hood up. She stuck her head inside and saw that the internals were all in a mess. “Don’t worry, honey. We’ll get you all fixed up.”

After jacking up the craft and grabbing her trusty tools from her toolbox, she figured out what exactly was wrong. First of all, the battery was completely drained of power. All the filters needed to be either replaced or fixed. The wires leading from the power cells to the hover cells were stripped and fried. And some of the transistors between circuits on the circuit board were damaged.

But these were things that she could handle. She took the battery out (which would have been easier if she wasn’t five months pregnant) and took the jumper cables and with a little creative wiring was recharging the battery by drawing power from the house. She had taken out the circuit boards and with some spare transistors she kept in an envelope in one of the drawers of her toolbox, was able to replace and sauter them. She took out the filters and with the air compressor that was in the corner began blowing the decades of dirt and crap out of the filters. Now all that was really left to do was replace the wiring.

She was so enraptured by uninstalling the wires that she didn’t notice Regan entering the garage and sitting on the steps.

"Kaylee, honey?"

Kaylee was startled for a brief moment, which was interrupted by the sharp pain she got when she bumped her head on the bottom of the car. She pulled herself out from underneath the car and sat up. “Mrs. Tam, hi.”

“Are you all right?”

“Oh this?” she inquired. “That’s nothing. Try getting shot in the stomach. That’ll definitely hurt.” She chuckled awkwardly. She felt a bit uncomfortable upon seeing her there. Why was she down here? Shouldn’t she be in bed? She asked kindly, “Can I get you anything?”

Regan smiled at the girl’s politeness. Right now, the morphine she took so that she could move around was beginning to wear off. She had enough of her bed and the wedding video and wanted to move around. None of this registered with Kaylee as Regan just waved her hand. “No, no, I'm fine. I may be dying, but I can still walk.”

Kaylee still felt awkward. “Well, if you need any help, just think of me as your pregnant crutch.” She gave a short laugh to try to break the tension. “Might be the only chance you can ride your daughter-in-law.” She winced at such a lame attempt at a joke and looked around as she felt another awkward silence coming on. “So...I was telling Mr. Tam I thought you had a really nice home.”

Regan looked around as well and sighed apprehensively. “Yeah, that's why I thought at first. But after a few years, the massive scale of it gets to you. It feels so cavernous and empty. But when Simon and River were younger, their screams and footsteps made it seem less empty.” She contemplated the past for a brief moment and decided not to dwell on it. She was on borrowed time, and she wasn’t going to waste it. “Do you come from a large family?”

Kaylee laughed for the first time since they got there. “Large would be an understatement.” Kaylee felt the tension drift away as she laid back down and pulled herself underneath the vehicle. ”There was never a boring moment growing up, I can tell you that. We can keep talking, you know. I can talk and work at the same time.”

“Who is in your family?”

“Let’s see, there’s my folks, Katie and Cole Frye. They’ve been together for about thirty odd years or so. Mom’s just a regular housewife, which in my family is an even bigger job than my dad’s. He’s a mechanic, when there actually is work. But we’ve gotten by. We always do. And then they’re my brothers and sisters.”

“How many?”

“Three brothers and two sisters. All older than me. I’m the baby of the family.”

There was a strange silence filling the air. Kaylee pulled herself out from under the car and saw Regan’s surprised look.

“Mrs. Tam?”

“Six? Your parents had six children?”

Kaylee shrugged. “Yeah. Folks out on the Rim have lots of kid’s actually.” Her eyebrows furrowed. “Why, you concerned?”

“Oh, no…no. It’s just so…large of a number. I thought two was a handful, even with a nanny and a housekeeping staff. Around here, some people would think three is stretching it. But…six, really?”

Kaylee chuckled. “Aw, six ain’t nothing. I heard of a farmer up in Jansen who had about four wives, and he had about five children with each of them. It’s weird. You’d think that rich people would have tons of kids, since they could afford it, and that regular farm folk like my folks would be a bit stingier when it comes to the offspring count.”

“Well, socio-economics and emphasis on social resources, as well as the norms of a particular society can…” She trailed off and stopped. Rambling on about her professional field of interest was a bad habit Simon picked up from her. She wasn’t going to lecture this lovely girl: she was obviously intelligent. “You know what, it’s not important.”

Kaylee shrugged and got back underneath. “How about you?”

Regan frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Well what do you do? I know you’re family’s real rich and elite and all that. But what exactly did you and your husband do?”

“Well, before Blue Tuesday, Gabriel was a top executive at a trading company here in Capital City. He was into finance and negotiating interstellar trade between the Core planets and some of the closer border planets that specialized in agriculture and textiles. And before I married him, I was a professor at Osiris University.”

Kaylee raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Oh, so you were a teacher. What did ya teach?”

Regan smiled as she recalled her college years. “I taught Sociology. But after I married Gabriel, I retired my academic career to take on the perils of motherhood and being a wife of high society.”

Kaylee began unscrewing the clamps that were holding the wire to the car. “That must’ve been tough for ya. Givin’ up doing the thing you love to raise kids.”

Regan shrugged. “It was just a job. I managed. Nothing was more important than my little ones. The first few years were tough, but after the two of them started going to school, I was able to do some charity work.”

“Like what?”

“Oh, sending clothes, food and medicine to the Outer Rim planets. Convincing recent graduates from the Education programs to teach at schools in the Outer Rim or disadvantaged neighborhoods. Just regular goodwill services.” She laconically drawled, “Despite what your Captain might say, we are not evil with a capital E.”

Kaylee shook her head. “Naw. Cap’n’s just a little grouchy is all. I know he might hold a grudge against the Alliance, what with the whole war, but I always had more faith in people.”

Regan looked down, her expression confused.

“Why are you here anyways, working on that hunk of junk?”

Kaylee was startled. “Junk?!?!? This is one of the Holy Grails of hovercars and it’s just sitting there. Just instinct for me to fix something that’s broke. Couldn’t just walk past this sweet thing and not fix it any more than Simon could walk past a sucking chest wound and not try to help. I’m surprised it’s even here. Why is it?”

“Oh, when Gabriel was younger, he was into cars. I think more for the prestige than the actual mechanics of it. After Simon left, he had a sort of mid-life crisis thing. Bought that and said that he would give mechanics a try. I don’t think he’s seen the damn thing since he first bought it.” She looked back down at Kaylee and tried to peer underneath the car. “Are you sure you should be under there like that? I'd hate to think of what my grandchild would be at risk of with you around engines in your condition.”

Kaylee chuckled again as she pulled the last bundle of wires out from under the car. “Hell, the radiation from the reactor probably took care of that. I thought I felt more than two feet in there.” She pulled herself out and saw Regan’s horror stricken look on her face. She laughed heartily and replied,” I’m kidding! Don't worry about Brooke. My momma was always around the stuff with me. Worst case scenario, she'll be born with a knowledge of engines.” Kaylee giggled as she went over and began pulling lengths of wire out of her wire spool. “I do wonder what she's gonna be like. Simon and I are so different. It's hard trying to imagine a blended version of us.”

As Kaylee began putting the fresh wires under the car, Regan recalled her children’s childhoods. “Well, both of them were very quiet as babies. And both of them could read even before they began to walk. They were always happier reading books or doing some sort of math or knowledge games. I imagine your childhood was the polar opposite.”

“A whole different 'verse.” She recalled some childhood stories as she installed the wires and got up to get the battery that was fully charged by then. She kept eye contact with Regan as she hauled the heavy battery back to under the car hood. “It's kind of scary when you think about it. How are two people from such extremes going to raise a child? I mean, I've been around babies all my life, but they've never been mine. What if I screw up? What if I'm not a good mom?”

“Every mother thinks that. And when they're little children, you're always on guard to make sure they're ok.” She looked down in shame as she continued. “It's my experience that it's when they're older that you tend to fail them.”

Kaylee gave the second clamp nut a final turn and went over to Regan. The old woman was looking like she was about to cry again. She squatted down as best as she could and put her hand on her shoulder. She said plainly, “I don't think you failed them.” Regan looked up, startled at this unexpected gesture of kindness. “Maybe made a mistake, but you didn't fail either of them. Simon and River are good. Maybe they ain't how you would have pictured them, but they're happy and Simon came home because he wanted to see you. I can't say he isn't mad about what happened, but he's never once said you failed him. Families fight, your family just had a long, spread out, big one. He still loves you. I don't think he ever stopped.”

Regan smiled weakly through her tears. “You're very kind.” She choked back her tears and took in a deep breath. “Tell me something about you. I saw the video and all, but I still don't know that much about you. While you’re working, just tell me something, anything. Tell me, what's your favorite thing in the world aside from engines and my son?

“Strawberries.” Kaylee grinned. “Lots, and lots of strawberries.”

Kaylee started jabbering away about who she was as Regan kept asking question after question, while Kaylee fixed and installed the filters and reinstalled the repaired circuit board. The questions ranged from family pets, to childhood friends, to what her family did for fun, summer nights on Newhope, to Kaylee’s many conquests, both with machines and with men. After Kaylee slammed the hood back down, Regan asked the big question.

“Why did you fall in love with him? After talking with you this last hour or so, I can see why he would love you immensely. But I’m wondering why you love him. I'm just curious as to why you two decided to fall in love and start a family of your own.”

Kaylee leaned back on the car and shrugged. “I was horny and he was cute.” Regan chuckled at this, but then gave a look that required a serious answer. “I suppose it was cause he was so different. Ain't any other boy I know that would have given up everything for his sister. And he had a different way about him. He was off in the Black, but he still kept bein' proper. Everyone else thought it was annoyin’, but I thought it was sweet.” She stopped as she tried to rack her brain to find the right words to express her initial infatuation with Simon. “I don't think words can really explain how he made me feel. Every time he'd look at me, I'd feel special, like I was the only girl in the 'verse. My heart would race, my palms would sweat, and I'd feel happy, happier then ever before. Even now, he can still make me feel that way. Marrying him was the best thing that's ever happened to me.” She placed her hands on her womb for emphasis. ”Brooke wasn't planned, but she's going to be here in a few months, and as scared as that might be, I can't wait to meet her.” She looked up at Regan. “You must think I sound so foolish.” Regan gave a small smile and shook her head. “No, not at all. You sound just like me when I met Gabriel. The circumstances were a little bit more formal, but what you just said was how we got along when we met.” She suddenly felt compelled to defend him, even though he had changed drastically over the years. “I know he may seem harsh and cruel, but you have to understand. All his life he's been in control. Nothing has come his way that he couldn't take care of. But I think all that has happened to us these last few years have really taken toll on him. He doesn't know what to do, so he lashes out at the things he can't control.”

Kaylee shrugged. “I don't judge him. If anything I hope Simon and him can work past their differences. For every ones sake. And if they can’t do it on their own, then maybe Jayne and Vera can act as go betweens.”

Kaylee grinned at the private joke while Regan nodded and looked towards the car. “So does the gorram thing work now?”

Kaylee leaned forward and came towards Regan. “Does Gabriel still have the keys for it somewhere?”

“I imagine so.”

Kaylee grinned. “Well let’s find out.”


Sunday, January 1, 2006 5:13 PM


“I was horny and he was cute.”

LMAO so very Kaylee! Great answer :P

Sunday, January 1, 2006 11:43 PM


I couldn't quite see Kaylee and Regan buddying up like this. Makes me feel if she really was this loving as a mother she would have listened to Simon when he asked his parents for help to find River. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 6:21 AM


Love how you've given them all backgrounds, and especially the easy way you relate them. A long time coming, these last two chapters, but very fine. Thanks!

Thursday, January 5, 2006 3:48 AM


i could totally imagine the whole conversaion going like that. Regan never seemed that bad to me, and i really think that she would be able to relate to Kaylee like that.
Keep up the good work!!!

Monday, March 27, 2006 7:27 AM


Anon - how about you offer some constructive criticism rather than just say it 'sucked' so plainly. What did you not like about it?

I rather liked that Kaylee found something to do at the estate and her going through the childhood images of her husband and sister in law were well done. And her conversation with Regan was very sweet and seemingly in character.

Interesting that you've posted twice, you see the IP address is logged on Anon posters so we can all see that it is you both times pretending to be someone else.

Monday, March 27, 2006 7:34 AM


Thank you, Leiasky for your comments.

And to the Anonymous asshole who posted that comment, if you're going to stab me in the back, then at least have the guts to do it to my face.


You must log in to post comments.



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.