DUPLICITY Series: 12. "The Road Home"
Saturday, June 7, 2008

"The crew pulls out all the stops while the Captain fights for his life. Inara makes the most of her time at the Abbey and Mountjoy and his crew get unwanted visitors."


TITLE: "THE ROAD HOME" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Zoe/Wash, Kaylee/Simon. RATING: PG-13. STATUS: Sequel to "LIFELINE". ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at

SUMMARY: "The crew pulls out all the stops while the Captain fights for his life. Inara makes the most of her time at the Abbey and Mountjoy and his crew get unwanted visitors." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

It was a bit like being a long distance runner, never having time to properly rest along the way or see to his own needs. The pull and pressure to keep going almost overwhelming. Yet he knew why he could not stop, did not dare to indulge in too much introspection. This was the life he now led. A wanted man, a fugitive, and perversely more free now than he had ever been. The dichotomy was like some bad joke the 'verse was playing on him at his own expense and Simon saw the irony dressed as humour, really he did. Such random thoughts helped him to concentrate only on what needed to be done right now not on what he wished he could do, the things he would have were he able, the ease of having to hand every instrument and medication he could ever need. This was make and mend, emergency patchwork on a body riddled with scars he knew intimately. His hands moving automatically, his eyes informing a mind racing through every permutation of information while he snapped out instructions. Before he could even think of putting the Captain back together he needed to stabilise him and time was not his friend.

Economy of movement. Neat, precise work with scalpel and needle. Brittle tiny bone fragments scattered in the ruin of kneecaps turned to mush. Blood and shredded flesh, the grit that was all that was left of the right patella, the greasy stringy consistency of muscle tissue. And still the wounds bled, pumping out blood the Captain could ill afford to lose. Around him all was a quiet efficient speed of motion, Jayne and Book steadying the stretcher while Zoe held aloft the bag of plasma. His sister River doggedly holding one limp and bloodied hand in her own as if by such a slender thread a life could be kept in the land of the living no matter how close death called. Once he would have told her to keep clear but not now, not when these people had come to mean more than family to them.

Then the frantic run to the infirmary was over and the Captain was laid with swift care upon the narrow infirmary bed, Zoe pulling the overhead lights into place while Shepherd Book stationed himself next to the sterilised instruments. Jayne tried to hide his concern. Captain didn't look good but for once he kept his gorram mouth shut. The ship too much like a rutting mausoleum without him making it worse. Everyone moving on tip toe, talking in barely audible whispers, afraid even too much movement of air would hurt the man. All of them instinctively knowing this was too close to call.

Wash quietly joined them, taking the seat next to the Captain and letting Simon set up the iv. No banter, just everything stripped raw by the desperate straits they were in. Jayne took up station just outside the infirmary door, a sniff alerting him that Kaylee had come from the engine room. She stood stunned and white faced, worry taking so many years off her that he couldn't see the woman she had become. Her face was a child's face, filled with anxiety and fear. She was trembling, hands twisting together, her bottom lip gripped between her teeth while her eyes shone bright with unshed tears. Jayne huffed softly. "What the *diyu*." He muttered, reaching out to draw the numb mechanic into a rough and rare embrace.

"Tell me he ain't gonna die, Jayne."

The whispered plea damn near broke his heart. How could he tell her what even God didn't know? Man was more alive than dead but it was a narrow distinction and Kaylee wanted reassuring. From him of all people, yet Jayne didn't have the heart to deny her. "Nah, doc'll fix him up just fine."

She sniffed into his shoulder, her eyes big and round, wanting to believe. "You reckon?"

"*Dang ran*. You sayin' Simon ain't the shiniest doc in the 'verse?"

It was meant to make her smile but Kaylee looked to be actually considering his words, her eyes glued to the drama taking place on the other side of the glass. "Dunno Jayne, Cap'n looks real bad."

"Huh, he always looks like that."

For a moment she didn't comprehend his rough notion of humour, blinked and tore her eyes away long enough to frown at him. "*Shenme*?"

"Yeah, well, what do I know?" He mumbled suddenly embarrassed. Jayne caught Zoe's eye as she turned to hand something to Simon and began to steer Kaylee away. "C'mon, best check on that engine. Make sure the ruttin' stabliser's still in one piece."

"*Bu qu*, wanna wait an' see..."

He cut her off abruptly. "Ain't gonna be nothin' to see for hours yet, Kaylee. Best way to help the Cap'n is to see to the ship, *dong ma*?"

She blinked, tears spilling down her cheek as she nodded. "*Qu*."

* * * * *

A long time ago Declan Mountjoy had been a young boy growing up in the slums of Londinium. Even from a tender age he knew he was dirt poor, that the rags he wore were hand me downs and the food in his mouth had been scavenged from the scraps thrown away by his self styled betters. Resentment had been bred into him until it festered like a canker and the more he had been down trodden the more he had tried to buck the system. When outright beligerence only brought the leather strap and whip he grew cunning. Honing and warping his intelligence into new and varied ways to get even.

Now, faced with the bland unfeeling face of the upper echelons of Alliance citizenry the old bitter hatreds flared anew. Bad enough to be boarded by the Alliance bully boys augmented by the local law enforcement to make it legal he also had to contend with the snooty bookends looking at him like something foul they had stepped in. It made his blood boil in the kind of simmering fury beyond the reach of common sense. Tristan saw the danger but knew the mercenary Captain well enough to know any warning would go unheeded. He wanted to close his eyes but knew it would not protect him from the fallout. Instead he stood silent and passive, waiting for whatever unholy retribution would fall upon their heads the moment his *baichi* Captain opened his fool mouth. Sadly he did not have to wait long.

"I demand to know what you think you are doing harrassing honest travellers!"

The blue handed man nearest to Mountjoy raised an imperious eyebrow. Sallow cheeks seemed to hollow out a little more as if he had drawn in a breath. The eyes glittered coal black and emotionless. "We ask the questions."

"Not on my ship you don't!"

If the man gave the soldiers any sign Mountjoy did not see it. The nearest purplebelly swung the end of his rifle in a sudden neat arc connecting with the Captain's jaw. Startled, the blow knocked him to the ground, pain a secondary realisation as blood poured out of his mouth. For a moment Mountjoy was on his hands and knees, head swimming and balance shot to pieces.

"Where are River and Simon Tam?"

He blinked up at the sallow face, idly thinking that the man looked more like a waxwork figure than one of flesh and blood. "*Shei*?"

"The siblings, where are they?"

Mountjoy struggled to his feet, damned if he would let the creepy man look down on him. "Don't know what the *diyu* you're talkin' about."

A different soldier stepped forward and struck him in the face. Angry and crazy mad he was about to retaliate when the second blue handed man spoke. His voice was deeper but so cold and detached it sent a shiver of fear down Mountjoy's back. "We know you took them off the Firefly along with its' Captain."

"*Shenme*? I took their cargo an' Cap'n, Malcolm Reynolds. Actin' under orders if you must know."

"And the Tams?"

He shook his head and wiped a hand over his face, his hand coming away bloody. "Don't know nothin' about 'em."

"Where is Captain Reynolds?"

It suddenly occurred to Mountjoy to worry that he had cut the Captain loose too soon. Now he had nothing to show these people and it didn't look as if his word was worth squat. "Set him adrift in his shuttle not that he'll be goin' far if you get my meanin'."

Blank looks stared back at him then the soldiers fanned out and began stripping the interior of the ship apart. Mountjoy glanced at his crew but was powerless to stop them. Styl looked almost as mad as his Captain but held his peace. After a thorough search the Alliance Captain shook his head. Nothing. The man who appeared to be in charge gave a stiff nod and the purplebellies began to withdraw back to the Alliance ship. "It appears you do not have what we want."

Mountjoy spat out a glob of blood and scowled back. "Told ya I didn't. Now who's gonna pay for the damge to my ship?"

"I think you misunderstand." The gaunt man responded smoothly.

Mountjoy watched him draw a thin rod out of his pocket and frowned. What the good gorram was that? Without a word the rod was activated, the sides elongating. It took a second or two for the Captain to realise that he was bleeding from the nose, eyes and ears. His head ringing in a way that could not be natural as a sharp pain seemed to slice through his head. He stared, uncomprehending the mind shredding agony then something in his head seemed to pop. Without a word the two blue gloved men turned and left as the crew of the Cumberland collapsed like puppets with their strings cut, leaving not one soul alive behind them.

* * * * *

The Abbot smiled gently like a miniature benign Buddha. Inara found herself liking him more and more, his calm and peaceful presence a balm for the soul. It helped that her brother sat next to her, alive and well and filling her with a joy so intense she could weep for the pleasure of it.

"You are welcome to share in our repast."

"*Xie xie ni, fuqin* but I was wondering. It has been many years since I have seen my brother. May we be permitted to go outside the Abbey grounds for a while?"

"Brother Martin has taken holy orders." The Abbot advised gently, his eyes kindly and seeking to encourage her understanding. "You are of course welcome to spend time with him here and should you wish to take your meals apart that can be easily arranged."

Sendhil nodded. "I am sure that will be perfect, *fuqin*."

Inara resisted the urge to scream that it was not perfect. That she wanted to spend more than an hour or two with her brother and did not want to share this reunion with either his fellow monks or this sacred place. Part of her resenting the place they now held in his heart and mind where she had once been unchallenged in his affections. It felt wrong, left her feeling oddly isolated and cheated. But she could tell just by looking at him that as unlikely as it seemed, Sendhil had found his place in the 'verse and it was no longer at her side. He would always be her brother but that familial bond had become more abstract than physical and she hated it. The realisation more painful than she could have imagined. Had she only found him to lose him again? How twisted was it that she was jealous of his happiness coming from any source that was not her? The touch on her hand brought her back to the present.

"Inara, *shenme shi*?"

"*Fang xin, wode hao*. It is just hard to find you again and know that when I leave you will be staying behind. I know I am being selfish."

He patted her hand. "*Fei hua*, you do not have a selfish bone in your body."

Inara laughed at his gallant words moved most because she knew he meant them. "I had forgotten your silver tongue."

"Any charm of mine always paled in the shadow of your own."

The Abbot rose and seemed amused, politely excusing himself to give them some time alone. As the door closed behind him, Inara allowed her emotions to show. A rare vulnerability only glimpsed by those closest to her. "Sendhil, *qing*, I cannot lose you now!"

"Hush dear sister, you won't. This is my choice just as being a Companion is yours. Do not deny me my heart's happiness."

She gripped his hands tightly in hers, tears glistening in her eyes. "Can you not get a leave of absence? At least spend a few days with me?"

"Inara, this is a closed order. Only the benificence of the Abbot has allowed us this much."

"You are a prisoner here?"

He laughed as if the very idea were absurd, a light musical sound that pulled at her heartstrings. Memories dancing in her mind that she would hold in her heart forever. "*Bu qu*. I am no more prisoner to my duty than you are to yours."

"What will I do?"

Sendhil kissed her hands. "As you always do, *jiejie*. You will lead a full and happy life knowing that I am doing the same. Be happy for me sister for I am content."

"But to never see you again..."

"Inara, you will see me again."

For a moment her look was lost. "I will?"

He nodded. "*Qu*. We are allowed weekly contact by letter or cortex so we can keep in touch, *dong ma*?"

"And visits?"

"From time to time, yes."

"I have so much I want to tell you." "And I want to hear it all." She stared, hardly able to believe her eyes even though he was sitting right next to her. Inara raised a hand and cradled his cheek, unable to stop the tears of joy falling. Quietly he spoke to her, telling her of his life and how he had come to enter into holy orders. They spoke long into the night and none disturbed them. But for every greedy hour of his company that Inara hoarded she lamented that it would be an hour nearer to the inevitable parting. Truly, she did not think that her heart would survive it. Sendhil knew better. He had faith enough for them both.

* * * * *

Two days and nights they kept uncertain vigil. Kaylee fretted, waking frequently and tip toeing to the infirmary to reassure herself that the Captain had not passed away in the night. The first time it happened Simon had come to the doorway and explained that for now the Captain was holding his own. His life signs were stabilising though not as firmly as he would have liked but it was early days. The second time it was River who came to her, moving quietly from the Captain's bedside and taking her hand, tugging gently until Kaylee took her seat. She stared at the too pale face on the pillow, the Captain's legs elevated and heavily bound. Monitors hummed quietly, her eyes moving from the too still body to the heart monitor, fixating on the steady pulse that confirmed what she barely allowed herself to believe. The little squeeze on her hand was more comforting than a library of words.

Kaylee looked down and just stared at her hand. She had assumed it was River but no, she was holding the Captain's hand. Slowly the import bled through to her foggy brain and her heart leapt with hope. She looked up quickly and saw River on the other side of the bed grinning at her. "He squeezed my hand, River!"

"Won't wake yet."

The mechanic gazed down for a long moment, taking in the slack features of her Captain's face and the obvious signs of body trauma. Watching the slow rise and fall of his chest and feeling almost giddy that she had been present when he squeezed her hand. She looked at River. "He *will* wake up, won't he?"

"*Qu*. Knows you're there, is coming back but he's so weary. Gathering his strength to come home."

Kaylee's eyes pricked with emotion. A sound at the doorway caused her to turn her head as Simon came in. "I thought I heard voices."

"Simon, Cap'n squeezed my hand! Ain't that shiny?"

He smiled back and put a hand on her shoulder before moving on to check the monitors. "What can I say? Malcolm Reynolds is too stubborn to die."

"He really gonna be alright?"

"Yes, Kaylee, though rehabiliation is going to be difficult."

She frowned. "*Wo bu dong*."

"Those *tamade hundan* shot out his kneecaps. Besides losing copious amounts of blood the Captain's body went into shock. Fortunately I've been able to replace most of the lost fluids but it will take extensive reconstructive surgery to repair the damage." He did not mention whether or not Serenity's Captain would ever walk again.

"Not nobody shinier than you, Simon. You can do it."

He looked reluctant to burst her little bubble. Faith was such a fragile thing in the Black. "If I had the right equipment, yes."

"Just tell us what you need. I'll speak to Zoe an' we'll get it."

It was one of the things he most liked about Kaylee, her eternal optimism. He wanted to tell her it wasn't that easy but the Captain was not the only one who had been in shock, the crew was still reeling and recovering and that included Kaylee. "It's late, Kaylee, you should go back to bed."

"I just wanna sit a while if that's okay?"

Simon nodded. "I suppose we aren't going anywhere anyway."


"Jayne was telling me about the stabliser."

Before Kaylee could say anything River spoke up, a brightness in her eyes that was at odds with the earlier somber mood. "Exciting new crime!"

Simon jerked his head in her direction, eyes wide with alarm. "*Mei mei*, we aren't going to be doing anything of the sort for some time."

"*Ni bu dong*. Patched up parts won't hold Simon, need a new one."

Kaylee's face fell. "We don't have money for a new one."

To her surprise River beamed back. "Which is why we're gong to steal one."


The girl laughed at the twin sounds of consternation coming from her brother and best friend. "We aren't just hiding."

The mechanic frowned, a stir of suspicion flickering in her eyes. "We aren't?"

"*Bu qu*." River waved a hand as if pointing to something they should be able to see. "The fence is alarmed and the storeroom has cameras and movement sensors but once through the fence the yard isn't covered. We'll find what we want there."

"River, are you suggesting we break into the junkyard compound?" Simon asked, his heart sinking even as the words left his mouth. The look on his sister's face already telling him the answer.

"Not now, tonight. Need the others."

She jumped up and all but floated to the doorway, pausing to look back at them with a last piece of advice.

"Sleep first. One more day of rest - don't waste it!"

Simon stared at the spot his sister had been standing and looked at Kaylee. "My sister, the master criminal."

The dry edge to his voice made Kaylee smile. Suddenly everything seemed fixable. "Think I'll try to get a few hours sleep. You should do the same, Simon. Ain't good for our on'y doc to be dead on his feet."

"I've been sleeping." He protested, but even to Simon's own ears it sounded weak. Kaylee leaned forward and dropped a gentle kiss on the Captain's forehead then got up and walked over to Simon, her head tilted as she looked at him with a smile of affection on her lips. "I mean in a proper bed not dozin' in a chair in the infirmary."

"You've been takin' lessons from my sister."

She patted his shoulder, the nearest thing he was going to get to sympathy as his consolation prize. "Then it's about time you listened."

* * * * *

He fidgetted, not that he would admit that he was worried but still. Badger had a lot riding on this job and Mountjoy had been out of contact for almost two days. It did not sit well with him. When he received the wave he activated the monitor before checking the source, convinced it would be Mountjoy with some half baked excuse for why he was late.

"You need a vacation."

The words stunned him. Not Mountjoy but the fact that it was his mother. Two calls in the same decade was almost unheard of. "No time for that. Businessman, see?" She leaned a little closer to the screen, her eyes fixed on his in a way that was creeping him out. "They will find you if you stay, Stephen."

Gritting his teeth Badger resisted the urge to yet again correct her. She would not listen anyway, typical gorram woman. Always thinking she knew what was best but he was no backbirth. "Who's they?"

"Your actions have caused too many ripples. Now certain powerful people are putting two and two together, *dong ma*? You do not want to be easily found when the sums are complete."

He opened his mouth to demand to know what in the nine hells she was talking about when the screen suddenly went black. A tendril of fear shivered down his spine, the hackles rising on the back of his neck. In a much subdued voice he spoke to his major domo. "Hicks, what the *guai* just happened?"

The man was frantically checking. Flipping switches and moving from one system to another, a knot of worry on his face that just got deeper. "*Wo bu zhidao, laoban*. Power's out."

"*Shenme*? That's not possible."

"Then someone just made it possible."

His mother's warning had grown teeth, Badger could feel the bite as the truth sank in. "Get the boys, grab what you can then scatter. You know the drill. Don't use any of the usual channels to get in touch just keep your heads down."

"What d'ya think is hap'nin', *laoban*?"

"Dunno, but whatever it is we ain't hangin' around."

Word spread mouth to mouth and like rats deserting a sinking ship the place emptied, bits of tech being whisked away while Badger ran to the hidden safe. Though he could likely have left it with a high likelihood that no one would find it he couldn't take that risk. His life was in that little vault and he had worked too long and too gorram hard to let anyone take it away from him. For now he would run but when the time was right he would return and God help whoever was behind this. Suddenly the silence from Mountjoy seemed like nothing so much as every alarm bell in the Black going off inside his head. Whatever it was that was going down it was big and Badger was determined not to be in the epicentre.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*diyu* = hell *dang ran* = of course *shenme* = what? *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *dong ma* = understand? *qu* = yes (lit. go) *shei* = who? *baichi* = idiot *xie xie ni* = thank you *fuqin* = father *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *wode hao* = I'm good *fei hua* = garbage talk/nonsense *qing* = please *jiejie* = sister (older) *wo bu dong* = I don't understand *mei mei* = little sister *guai* = devil/ghost *laoban* = boss *wo bu zhidao* = I don't know *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard


Saturday, June 7, 2008 3:26 PM


Excellent work here! So glad Mal's back aboard, and that things are looking up!

Saturday, June 7, 2008 6:43 PM


Interesting, looking forward to what happens next.

Saturday, June 7, 2008 6:50 PM


Love reading this story.

Sunday, June 8, 2008 9:41 PM


You've got a tangle of storylines going here, and I can't wait until they coalesce. Good description of Mal's injuries, and Simon's hesitation over whether he will walk again. I want to see Inara's reaction, though, when she finds out what was done to Mal ... it should give us an idea of how she really feels.

Monday, June 9, 2008 4:42 AM


this is one of the stories i've been itching to catch up on. fine stuff:)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 2:40 PM


Good as always. Must have escape me during the falling apart of the website. I am worried for Mal, those injuries sound terrible.

Sunday, April 17, 2011 2:35 PM


Simon stared at the spot his sister had been standing and looked at Kaylee. "My sister, the master criminal."

LOL, can just see his face when he says that...hilarious
GREAT series, AliD


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.