They left the room through the window, since it was quicker than messing with the keys.

"How is everyone doin'?" Mal asked.

"Settin' the explosives. Just one more minute and I'm set to leave," Jayne replied.

"We aren't doing too well! They figured out which computer we were using and they're coming down on us hard!" Mathis cried.

"Simon, he's in trouble…" River said quietly.

"Let's go," Mal nodded. "We're on our way!"

"We're?" Mathis asked.

"Yes, River's with me."

Mal and River went through the halls, following the trail of bodies and blood Mal left behind to get back to the elevator. They went up to the top floor.

"I know where they are. Follow me," River said evenly.

He followed her through the maze of corridors until they reached the source of the gunfire. River sprung into action. Between them, they took them all down in only five minutes.

"Simon!" River cried as she dropped to her brother's side.


They embraced, but he winced. "Ow, I've been shot…again."

He had been shot in the leg. Mathis was unscathed.

"I believe we had a talk 'bout my doctor…" Mal said in a threatening voice.

"Mal, I set the charges! Did you get her?" Jayne interrupted.

"Yeah, she's okay."

"Good now let's get the hell outta here!"

"Agreed. Meet us out front."

Mal and River helped carry Simon while Mathis led them out. Mal made sure to keep his gun trained on him, just as an insurance policy.

They made it out into the open. All of the guards were dead or dying. Mal couldn't help but smile. That was Zoe's work alright. Jayne came bounding out after a few minutes with a big smile on his face.

"Hi moonbrain. Can I blow it up yet?" Jayne asked impatiently.

"Wait until we get to safety," Mal sighed.

They got to the shuttle, which was just beyond the gate. After getting Simon situated, Mal gave the order.

The building went up with an impressive bang and light show. Jayne's smile widened.

"I love my gorram job."

They shut the shuttle doors and took off for Serenity. River sat beside Simon and tended to his wound carefully.

"How are you, mei mei?" he asked gently.

"Better, now that I'm going home."

Simon smiled and patted her on the arm. Mal looked at her happily. He wanted to scoop her up and never let go. But, it wasn't the right time. She needed her brother, and he needed her. They docked with Serenity and were met by Kaylee and Zoe.

First Kaylee squealed happily and hugged River and then she let out a terrified shriek and dropped to her husband's side.

"Simon! What happened?" she asked fearfully.

"I was just shot in the leg…again."

She helped him up with River and they carried him to the infirmary. Zoe stood at the door with a smile on her face.

"Other than a few bumps, that went surprisingly smooth. Good job, Sir."

"Good work to you too. Hey, what happened here?" he pointed to the bandage on her arm.

"Stray shot. Sir…the other shuttle took a pretty bad beatin' from those guys."

"Those guys took a pretty bad beatin' from my first mate. As long as my crew is okay, I'm happy."

Jayne had a few cuts, but he was fine other than that.

"Did you see that explosion, Mal?" he asked with that stupid smile still on his face.


Jayne just smiled and walked away to get something to eat.

"What about him?" Zoe asked as she motioned towards Mathis.

"I was thinkin'…Whitefall."

Zoe smiled. Mal nodded.

"W-Whitefall? You can't be serious!" Mathis stuttered.

"It's the perfect place. They won't find you, you won't be able to contact anyone. Works fine for me. Until then, you're stayin' locked up in the passenger dorms. Zoe, if you will."

"With pleasure."

She dragged Mathis out of the shuttle by the ear and towards the passenger dorms. Mal smiled and went down to the infirmary to check on the doc and River.

River was busy fixing Simon up with help from Kaylee, so he just hung around outside.

He heard Kaylee and River laughing followed by, "You're such a brat!" from Simon. He missed her laughter.

"There. Is that correct?" River asked.

"Yes. Great job, mei mei. Do you need any medicine or medical attention?"

"No Simon, I'm fine. You should rest."

"So should you."

"I don't feel like it. Kaylee, take my brother."

"Come on Simon. You're wife needs some attention."

Kaylee and Simon hobbled past Mal and to their bunk. Mal entered the infirmary.

"Hey there," he smiled.

River returned a shallow smile. "Sit. You need some medical care."

"It's nothin' much."

"Don't argue."

He growled and sat down on the table. She looked at his leg. She saw blood seeping through his tan pants. She took his boots off and rolled up his pant leg. He hissed when the fabric went over the graze. She dabbed it with some liquid that burned and then bandaged it up. She pulled his pant leg back down.

"Take off your coat."

He did.

She saw his black and blue forearm. He winced when she took it in her hands, but relaxed at her soft touch.

"You have a fracture."

She wrapped it in a tough cast and then moved onto the wounds on his face. She ran her fingers down his jaw. She continued gently feeling his face for any serious injuries.

"You have some swelling, nothing serious. You'll be fine."

He took her hands and looked deeply into her eyes. "So will you."

She smiled. "I know I will."

He pulled her into another hug and squeezed as tightly as he could without hurting his arm.

"You have to be hungry," he commented.

She laughed. "A little."

"Then let's get somethin' to eat."

They went up into the kitchen together and enjoyed a meal together. He was worried that River might have lost the sanity she had worked so hard to regain in the last four years, but he was delighted to discover that she was basically alright. Sure she was a little shook up, but other than she was at peace for the first time in a long time. They were dead, and she was free.

They set course for Whitefall and took off from Eros safely. They all gathered around for dinner that night. It was like nothing had happened.

"No, I'm not naming my son Jayne!" Simon cried.

Everyone laughed.

"Oh come on! It's a good name!" Jayne argued.

"For a girl…" River muttered loud enough for everyone to hear.

They all laughed again.

"Okay, what about 'Cobb'? Cobb Tam. Eh? Eh?" Jayne asked.

"I'm not naming my kid anything that you come up with!" Simon bellowed playfully.

"I'm with my husband on this one."

Jayne snarled and went back to eating.

"How about Simon Jr.?" Kaylee suggested.

"No! NO! I have one Simon and that's enough!" River exclaimed.

"She has a point," Mal sighed.

Dinner died down and everyone went their separate ways. Simon made River go to her room to get some rest. Then Kaylee made him go into their bunk for some rest too. It wasn't ten minutes after they had disappeared when River reappeared in the kitchen.

"I thought you were gonna get some shut-eye," Mal commented.

"I don't want to."

"Then you don't have to."

He sat down on the couch and she joined him. She decided to curl up next to him and use his thigh as a pillow. He calmingly stroked her hair.

"I'm free now," she commented. "I wasn't before. They were chasing me. They'll stop now."

"Are you sure?" he asked with fear finding it's way into his voice.

"Yes. They knew."

"Knew what, sweetheart?"

"I wasn't of use anymore. They couldn't train me. My mind broke away."

She readjusted so she was leaning against his side. She looked up at him.

"Because of you. You're the reason my mind broke away. Thank you."

She tucked her head in the crook of his neck and shut her eyes.

"And, they know that I don't know anything."

"How do they know that?" he asked.

"I would have said by now and you would have done something about it."

He laughed. "I conjure I would have."

"I know you would have."

He half smiled and reached out to her. She took his hand.

"I'm so glad you're back home," he whispered into her hair.

"I'm glad I'm back home too, with my family…" she paused, unsure if she should add the next part. "…and my captain."

His heart raced. He didn't want to rush into his confession, but he didn't want to lose the chance to either. She sensed his inner struggle.

"Is there something you want to say?" she asked.

"Yeah, there is. I just don't know if it's the right time."

"It rarely ever is."

He chuckled. "I s'ppose that's the pure truth. Darlin', I was a wreck without you. Just ask Zoe. I was a mess. I never felt so scared in all my life. I thought I'd never get to tell you."

"Tell me what?"

"I love you. Not like I love Zoe or Kaylee either. I mean, I'm in love with you. Have been for quite sometime. I've been a boob."

She giggled.

"Did I mess that up?" he asked worriedly.

"Not at all."

"Good. So…how do you feel…you know…about me?"

"You're an adorably awkward boob. And…"


"I'm in love with you too. Took you long enough to tell me."

"I was gonna! But since you got taken by the Feds-"

She put her hand on the nape of his neck and pulled him down towards her. They kissed sweetly. Zoe had just walked in. She looked at them and just walked away smiling. They pulled apart. He looked into her eyes and gently ran his hand down her cheek.

"I can't believe it took me so long," he sighed.

"It was worth the wait," she grinned.

"Yes it was."

The end

Thanks for reading. Keep an eye out for a continuation of this story…