Point of No Return, Part II
Tuesday, May 10, 2005

River crosses Zoe, Simon is hurt (again), and Mal gets an unwelcome surprise.


Disclaimer: This story is in no way meant to infringe on the rights of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, or 20th Century Fox. Just wanted to have a bit of fun with these characters is all. Please don’t sue me.

Thanks for reading. Feedback is always welcome. Oh, and if you’re gonna archive this, please have the courtesy to ask me first.

Rated PG-13 for graphic descriptions, violence, and a few Chinese cuss words.

“Point of No Return, Part II”

***** *****

River’s scream resounded forcefully throughout the ship. Before Mal could fully absorb what was happening, the doctor was halfway up the stairs, moving faster than a man with a hurt leg had any right to move. Zoe wasn’t far behind him.

Simon stepped into what apparently was a commons area. He paid no attention to the scorch marks on the walls, nor the overturned furniture, nor the dead bodies sprawled on the floor. All he cared to focus on, across the mid-sized room, was his sister, standing in the doorway to the next corridor, facing him. She was hugging herself, shivering, peering at him from under long strands of hair. No, not at him, he realized…she seemed to be looking past him, somehow. He took several steps toward her.

River quickly put up her hands in a gesture for him to back away. “No, don’t hurt him!” she pleaded suddenly.

Simon was baffled. “What are you talking about? Hurt who?”

The only answer he got was a fierce growl coming from behind him. Zoe entered just in time to see a dark figure launch itself at Simon. Instinctively she cocked her weapon and took aim, but she hesitated for the risk of hitting the doctor. It – whatever it was – hit Simon hard, and both went crashing to the ground. He was pinned, trying to find the strength to struggle against this…man? Animal? It was powerful. And fast. It drove an elbow hard into Simon’s stomach, knocking the wind from him. It then shifted itself so that it was facing his lower body, laying most of its weight on top of him. Zoe cursed and lowered her gun. She couldn’t shoot it; the doc was too close. Mal entered and realized something had to be done, and quick.

The creature then did the something strange: it sniffed Simon’s leg, then began to lick sore spot from which he was bleeding. Simon wheezed and squirmed, but he was too out of breath to struggle. Then the thing ripped his pants open at the thigh and put its hungry mouth directly to his wound, its tongue savoring the taste of his blood.

It didn’t get to enjoy much of it, though. Mal gave it a boot to the head that sent it tumbling to the other side of the room. The creature sprang up quickly, ready to pounce. Zoe moved with lightning speed, the barrel of her gun hovering not three feet away from its face. Without giving it any thought, her finger started to lightly squeeze the trigger —

And suddenly River was between them, shielding her brother’s attacker. Zoe removed her hand from the trigger at the last moment.

“Don’t hurt him!” she cried, her expression one of mingled fear and pleading.

“River, honey, move out of the way,” Zoe intoned flatly. “I have to shoot the bad guy now.”

“He’s not Mal,” she said defensively. She shook her head. “Bad. He’s not bad,” she meant to say.

Mal. Bad. In the Latin, Simon remembered. He sat up with great effort.

Apparently neither Mal nor Zoe noticed River’s slip of the tongue. “He tried to eat your brother,” Mal said. “That don’t make him exactly good.”

“He’s trying, but he’s been alone, confused,” came the sad reply.

“Hungry,” Simon realized. So that’s what she was talking about earlier.

Behind River the creature sank, its back to the wall, and rested its shaking hands on its knees in what Simon interpreted as a sign of contrition. For the first time, in the flickering blue light, he saw its face…or rather, what was left of its face. A poorly stitched scar slashed across its left jaw, a soft purple bruise on its forehead.

But what struck Simon the most was that the creature’s right eye was missing, leaving a deep black hole. Its remaining eye was intensely brown, darting from Mal, to Zoe, to Simon, back to Mal, to River, and back to Simon.

The doctor started the grueling task of getting back on his feet. River stood her ground between the creature, who made some sort of moan, and Zoe, whose gun was still trained on Simon’s assailant. “So, what do we do now, sir?” she said without taking her eyes off her target.

Mal sighed. He wanted to put a bullet through that thing’s skull and end everyone’s worries. That’d be the merciful thing to do, really. Better dead than live like…this. Whatever this was. There was no life here. No real life, anyway.

“He’s still alive,” River said. “Still flyin’.”

Mal felt a tug at his heart. Clearly the girl didn’t want this to see this thing hurt. That was odd enough, considering the great job it did of re-re-injuring Simon’s leg. But what else…?

“We can’t just leave him here.”

“What — ”

“You wouldn’t leave Kaylee. Or me and Simon.”

True enough, Mal thought.

“Or Inara.”

Mal’s face went grim.

“Sir?” Zoe was getting impatient.

“Captain,” Simon approached the creature slowly and with caution. He reached a hand toward its downcast face. The creature shrank from him at first. “It’s alright, I won’t hurt you,” the doctor said softly. He reached out again, and it let him touch it. He inspected the injuries with professional concern, noting the cuts, the abrasions… “Captain,” Simon started again, “I’d like to get him treated.”

Mal’s jaw dropped. “Have both of you lost your ruttin’ minds?”

“Perhaps,” Simon said. “He’s dehydrated, and fatigued. I don’t think he’s dangerous.”

Mal could scarcely believe his ears. “That thing was making a meal of you not two minutes ago, and you don’t think it’s dangerous?”

Simon gave him a dry grin. “I think if the shepherd were here, he’d say something about turning the other cheek, or some such.” He winced at a sudden twinge of pain. “And anyway, we could keep him sedated.”

“ ‘We’ will do no such fool thing. He, or it, or whatever-it-is is not coming with us, and that’s the end of it.”

“At the very least, let’s take him back to the town. They’ll help him there.”

“We should leave now, sir,” said Zoe with a subtle edge to her voice. “We got a schedule to keep, and we’ve already spent more time than we should have by coming out here in the first place.” She shot a stern glance at River, who was unfazed.

Mal knew she was right. If they were to deliver those parts on time, they had to leave ASAFP. But he knew, deep in his bones, that River was right, too. Damn it, she was always right. She’d risked her life – not to mention Zoe’s, Simon’s, and his own – to come here, out into the unknown, and save this creature. Leave it to this crazy meiyou muqin de xiao gou of a girl to make things not go smooth. He was visibly frustrated. All eyes were on him. He felt like shouting. Taking the thing on board would be stupid and irresponsible, but he’d never live it down if he just left it here.

“Alright, fine!” he said finally. “We’ll take it back to town. But that’s it. And if the Governor won’t find it help, then that’s too bad. It’ll just have to make it on its own. But it ain’t ridin’ with us. Period.”


Kaylee paced from one edge of the open bay door to the other. The captain and the others were taking longer than she expected. “You don’t suppose they ran into trouble?” she looked at Wash. The pilot shrugged.

“What kind of trouble could they run into out in the middle of nowhere?” Jayne said.

“Perhaps you’ve got a point,” said Book. “Still, I’m concerned about River. She seemed uneasy about something. She spoke as if…well, I’m not sure what.”

Jayne muttered something under his breath.

“Shenme?” Kaylee frowned at him.

“Nothing,” he said.

She started to cuss him out when Book pointed toward the town. “Here they are now,” he said. “River looks to be with them, safe and sound. Nothing to worry about after all.” At that last statement, Wash got the impression the shepherd was trying to convince himself as much as he was Kaylee.

Zoe drove the mule up the ramp, stopping long enough for Simon, River, and Mal to get off before driving it back to its parking spot at the back of the room. The first thing Kaylee noticed, after the sad expression on River’s face, was the towel that was hastily wrapped around Simon’s freshly-bleeding leg. She was unable to control the tremor in her voice. “Oh my God, Simon, are you alright? What happened?”

“Zhe bing bu huai,” Simon lied, trying a little smile. Kaylee was not amused.

“Everybody on?” Mal asked.

“All accounted for, sir.”

“Wash, get us in the air, mashong,” Mal said loudly, not bothering to hide his exasperation. “Full burn to Jasper. We’re behind.”

“Aye, sir!” Wash sped to the bridge.

“Captain?” Book started.

“Not now,” Mal huffed as he clomped heavily up the metal stairs to the bridge. “Make sure those boxes are secure. And someone close that gorram door!” he shouted as he left.

Zoe made for the bridge, too. Kaylee helped Simon to the infirmary. River followed them, shuffling like a scolded puppy. Jayne went off to the common room. Book watched his crewmates scatter silently out of sight, wondering at the somber cloud that seemed to hang over everyone’s heads.

Suddenly he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. His muscles tensed reflexively. His weight shifted at an instinct, readying his body for fight or flight at an instant. But when he scanned the cargo bay, he saw nothing. He was alone.

Book relaxed when he heard the heavy whirr of Serenity’s engines engaging. He hit the control panel on the side of the room and watched the iron doors come together with a thunderous clang.


“A Reaver ship? Really?” Kaylee’s eyes were wide.

“Shh!” Simon put his finger to his lips, hoping her voice hadn’t carried enough to alarm anyone unnecessarily. He lowered his voice. “Yes, Reavers,” he continued as he returned his attention to cleaning his leg with disinfectant. The pain was beginning to ebb, but he figured he’d have to go back to the crutches for a few days at least. “They were all dead, presumably killed in the crash.”

“They were fighting,” River croaked in a monotone voice. “One rotten bullet spoiled the whole compression chamber.”

It made sense to Kaylee. Without containment, all it took was an errant spark for the unstable core to blow a hole clean through the back of a ship. She shivered.

Simon went on. “Except there was still one left. River found him, but he was hurt pretty badly. She convinced the captain to take him back to the town.”

“You don’t say!” Kaylee smiled for the first time. “Didn’t think the Cap’n would take a liking to helping space pirates.”

“He didn’t. He gave River a verbal lashing for that on the way back.” He paused. Can’t say I blame him for that really, he thought but didn’t say. He was immediately sorry when he realized River heard him anyway. She tossed him a hurt look and stamped out of the infirmary.

Kaylee started to call after her, but Simon cut her off. “It’s alright,” he said. “I think she should be left alone for a little while.” In truth, part of him wanted to comfort his sister, but a small part of him wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her. He had been a little miffed that she just stood idly by while that creature kicked his ass, and that when she finally did step in, it wasn’t on his behalf, but the Reaver’s. Of course, as a healer, it shouldn’t have been so surprising to Mal that Simon would express concern over the creature’s well-being. After all, damn it, he was a doctor, not a fighter. Still, it hurt his feelings that the sister he cared so much for either didn’t understand or didn’t appreciate the lengths to which he’d go, the sacrifices he’d made, all for her.

“So what happened to him?” Kaylee’s voice broke his train of thought. He realized he’d been staring blankly through the empty doorway.

“Oh, we took him back to town,” Simon said as he started laying a proper bandage, “but the Governor didn’t want him there. He didn’t want the hassle. So…we turned him loose.”

“Turned him loose? Where?”

“At the other edge of town.”


They both fell silent a minute as Simon finished his work. Kaylee helped him to the sink to wash his hands, then handed him a crutch. “I didn’t think I’d need this thing again so soon,” he smiled, trying to find a bit of good humor, however weak.

Kaylee was at a loss for words. All she could do was smile back.


It was late. Everyone had retired soon after dinner. Everyone, that is, except Mal. He was pretty certain there was no one left awake to hear him walk the ship, as was his custom on nights like this, when he had a lot weighing on his mind. Now he was standing on the catwalk, leaned over the railing, surveying the cargo space. He listened to Serenity hum her mellow song, and he felt himself a little more at ease. He drained the last bit of milk from his plastic mug and grimaced. It had become lukewarm. He forced it down anyway; didn’t make sense to waste perfectly good milk, since it was so hard to come by these days. He’d always enjoyed a cup of hot milk before bed, since he was a kid. He still enjoyed it now, when he could afford the luxury.

He was aggravated, but wasn’t sure why. Couldn’t have been the job. It was just a simple, easy, straightforward, legal, good-paying, hassle-free transport and repair job. And it was going well enough. Wash had assured him they’d make the rendezvous right on time. And even though that girl had run off unexpectedly and caused them all a lot of worry, at least she wasn’t hurt, and she didn’t hurt anyone else. That was always a good thing. In all it had been a good day.

So why was he still awake?

He glanced in the direction of Inara’s shuttle.

Oh, yeah. That.

A jumble of emotions welled up in his head. He pushed them all back, out of the sight of his wounded ego, and started for his bunk. Though his mind was swimming laps, his body cried for sleep. Mal absently made his way down the corridor to his room.

The hatch was already open. Mal stopped short. He wasn’t in the habit of leaving it open, ever. He climbed down and quickly scanned the room. Nothing looked out of place. “Huh…must be slipping,” he said without realizing he’d done so aloud. He climbed back up, closed the hatch, locked it, and came back down…

“BWAH!” Mal yelped, and jumped nearly three feet in the air.

The dark figure of a man was suddenly seated on his bed. Mal balled his fists and prepared to defend himself, but the intruder didn’t move to attack. It seemed just as scared as he did.

“Where the hell’d you come from?” the captain demanded.

“Alpha,” was the pitiful creature’s only response, meeting Mal’s gaze with a single, sorrowful eye. It then slid from the bed, prostrating itself at the captain’s feet.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005 12:08 PM


Very, very original piece of fic. I like the fact that it is in no way predictable and can't wait to see where you go from here. River was just excellent, I could really see her wanting to rescue the poor Reaver and I get the feeling all is not quite as it seems with the poor tormented soul. Loved the way he turned up in Mal's bunk then threw himself on his mercy. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 2:36 PM


I guess the "good reaver" angle needs to be examined, so you've make a nice start!! I especially like the captain's reactions to the developments.

Keep flyin'


Tuesday, May 10, 2005 9:59 PM


sounds very interesting. i can't wait to see how this good reaver turns out.

no power in the verse

Monday, September 19, 2005 8:33 AM


And it just gets better! *applause*

Simon all miffed, Mal missing Inara and denying it even to himself, Kaylee being all cute and Kaylee-ish ... lovely stuff.

And cute little touches too - like Mal enjoying warm milk!



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Heart & Soul, Part II
Book is visited by a mysterious man from his past and gets in a fight. Meanwhile Inara, ever calm, ever graceful, finds herself on the raggedy edge.

Heart & Soul, Part I
Mal's trying to adjust. Inara's trying to adjust. Book's journey takes him in an unexpected direction. And someone ends up dead.

Play It Again, Tam
The doctor reveals a hidden talent that touches Mal in a way he didn't think possible. A one-shot.

Point of No Return X, The Conclusion
Serenity is disabled, left without communication, and cornered by the Reaver ship. The only way out is for a member of the crew to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Point of No Return, Part IX
He's lost everything and everyone he's ever loved. Now he's faced with a choice: resist the urge for blood and rebuild his life, or descend deeper into that black madness, beyond the point of no return...

Point of No Return, Part VIII
A bad situation becomes desperate. Kai relives his troubled past, and Wash takes a dangerous risk. Plus: Mal and Monty's great escape.

Point of No Return, Part VII
The crew take on a new job, thanks to Jubal Early. Book gives Simon a helping hand in his investigation; Kaylee and Mal find themselves in a deadly situation; and Wash realizes they're not alone.

Point of No Return, Part VI
The day that Inara has been dreading for weeks finally arrives. Simon can't understand the connection between his sister and the Reaver, and the controversy continues over Serenity's newest crew member. Plus: River gives Mal a startling prediction.

Point of No Return, Part V
Jayne's plan backfires big-time; Kaylee is rescued by an unlikely hero with a troubled past; Book and Wash have words; and Mal considers a change of heart.

Point of No Return, Part IV
Simon tries to figure out River's relationship with his newest patient; Mal has a hard time trying to figure Inara out; and a simple job goes south in a hurry.