A/N: Spoilers are as follows in Firefly: this story takes place a few months after the BDM. Inara has stayed on the ship. The first and second chapters will be happening at the same time. Chapter 1 is the Firefly side and Chapter 2 is the Doctor Who side. The rest will be the combining of the two. Enjoy!

Chapter 1: Strangers in the Alley

Captain Mal Reynolds was sitting at the kitchen table having a drink. This last job went pretty well. Almost too well, if you asked him. They were waved by Sir Warwick Harrow about a week ago. He had more cargo that he wanted to sell off planet. Since the crew of Serenity successfully managed to do this job before, he was more than happy to deal directly with them. Luckily for his ship, this cargo was more of the boxed variety and less of the cow variety. Everything went off without a hitch. Maybe that was why he was so anxious. His plans never go smooth.

"Everything alright, sir?" Zoe asked as she came striding through. It had been a few months since Wash had died. Zoe was still not the same, not that anyone but her expected her to be. Mal hadn't realized how good Wash was for her until he was gone. He straightened up and smiled at her.

"Indeed it is, Zoe. Job's done. Just have to get back to Persephone and get paid."

"You ain't worried that Badger might have something to say about us getting this job without his assistance?" Zoe poured herself some of Kaylee's wine and sat down across from him.

"No. We get plenty of jobs without having to deal with that chănmèi de yòu. Besides, I'm all for celebrating the fact that there are no casualties and only one minor injury." Mal held up his glass. Zoe held hers up and clinked his.

"I'll drink to that."

~`~`~`~ Change in scene ~`~`~`~

Simon was currently in the infirmary, tending to his less than amused patient with her minor injury.

"Ow! Simon, that really hurts!" Kaylee wrenched her hand away from Simon, who was applying ointment to her palm. She burned it on the engine.

"Kaylee, it's not going to heal as well if I don't put this on it. I know it hurts, but it will help. Trust me, bao bei." He tenderly ran his hand over her cheek. Kaylee smiled and held out her hand again.

"Well, can't have you thinking I don't trust you, can I?" She winced while he applied the rest of the ointment and wrapped her hand up in a bandage.

"There. All better." He kissed her hand and sat down next to her on the infirmary bed. Kaylee smiled and put her head on his shoulder. Simon rubbed her head and put his hand in his vest pocket, holding his pocket watch. Kaylee put her hand on his wrist.

"Simon, I always see you with your hand in your pocket. What'cha keepin' in there?" She smiled at him. He smiled back and took out the watch. After giving it a fond look, he put it in her outstretched hands.

"It was my father's." Kaylee gave it a onceover and frowned. The button to open it was stuck.

"It's broke. It won't open." Simon gave her a small smile before answering her unasked question.

"I know. After I made it clear that I wasn't going to quit looking for River to keep my family's good name, my parents kicked me out of the house. My father threw it against the wall as I left. When I look at it, it gives me hope. I can fix the watch, but not until I fix River. Once she's fixed, maybe we can fix our family the way I can fix the watch. I dunno. Hearing it out loud makes me sound-"

"-like a good man that got a fei hua deal in life. If that's the last thing your father gave you, it don't matter that it's broke. It's still special. Look." She pulled a rusty, bent screw out of the inside pocket of her jumpsuit and handed it to Simon. He took a glance at it and looked back at her.

"This is the screw that I used on the first job I ever did with my daddy back at his shop. I thought I was the bee's knees because he let me work on a customer's engine. We removed this screw from the grav boot. I keep it with me to remind me of that day. Just like you keep that to remind you that River and your family could someday be fixed. What?" Simon was staring at her and gaping.

"Nothing, it's just…I never thought anyone would understand why I would keep something my father threw at me when he kicked me out of my home." Kaylee traced the circular patterns on the face before handing it back to Simon.

"I've never seen a pattern like this before. Where did he get it? It's shiny." Simon traced the pattern as well.

"You know, I'm not sure. Hm, maybe someday we'll see another one." He laughed and kissed her.

"Another what?" She giggled as she fell back on the bed. Simon, being the clever doctor, followed her lead.

~`~`~`~ Change in scene ~`~`~`~

After their drink, Mal and Zoe made their way up to the bridge to see their pilot. River took to piloting Serenity like a duck to water. Granted, she took to everything she touched like a duck to water. Even though she spent most of her time in the bridge nowadays, nothing had changed. Instead of adding her own personal touches, she kept Wash's dinosaurs on the console and watched them. She didn't ever touch them.

"How goes things, lil' Albatross?" Mal walked up and put his hands on her shoulders. River looked up at him and smiled.

"We will be landing on Persephone in about 10, Captain. Of course that's not accounting for the myriad of things that could go wrong once we hit atmo…."

"There is no need to continue there, little one. How's about you take a break? I'll take over." Mal moved and took a seat at the copilot's console.

"She doesn't need a break. She just needs…" River stopped and stared off into space.

"You alright, River?" Zoe asked. She had stopped at the door, unwilling to go in to what used to be her husband's domain. Her concern for River overruled her unease, seeing as River was flying the ship. Mal took over the piloting while Zoe attempted to get River's attention unsuccessfully.

"River? River! " Zoe snapped her fingers in her face, but River continued to stare off to her right. She got up and grabbed the intercom.

"Sir, should we call the Doc?"

"No need to call my brother. Just fazed out for a moment. Lost in thoughts that aren't always her own. Had to find a way out of the storm. Nothing to worry about." River twitched and looked up at Zoe, a small smile on her face.

"You know, it creeps me out when you get all freaky like that." Mal said to her. River got up, not looking either at either one of them.

"Think I will take that break…." River said as she glided out of the room. Zoe looked at Mal with a look of concern.

"You know what usually happens when she gets like that, Sir."

"Yeah, I do. She saw something. She'll come to us if it's something we need to know. For now, I'm going to concern myself with getting us planet side and getting paid." As Mal said this, Inara walked into the room.

It still amazed Mal to see her in pants. Since Miranda, Inara was suspended for 6 months due to her "manner unbecoming a companion." She started wearing less of the expensive gowns and more of the expensive trousers. Less then two hours after her suspension, she was hired on Serenity as the bookkeeper. Giving her the job was probably one of the best decisions Mal had made since renting her the shuttle. He was never one for keeping track of the money, so he couldn't really tell where it all went. Due to Inara's expert tracking of the expenses and payouts, everyone seemed to have a little more credit to spend and less worries about running out of fuel and the like.

"Did I hear the words 'getting paid'? You still have not given me the figures of the latest job, Captain."

"I told you I will give them to you when we have it in our hands. That way, it's a done deal. Once we hit Persephone and see Sir Harrow, we'll have our money and you'll have your numbers." Inara sighed sarcastically and made her way gracefully out of the room. Zoe followed her out.

"Well, old girl, it's just me and you. Let's get us on the planet in one piece, what do you say?" Mal flipped three switches and made ready to land.

"Simon?" River made her way to the infirmary, where Simon and Kaylee were hurriedly adjusting their hair and clothing. They were laughing together, which made River smile.

"What's up, mei mei?" Simon asked.

"I just wanted to tell you…..I'm….." River trailed off, looking off to her left. Both Simon and Kaylee followed her gaze but didn't see anything. Simon moved to her left and put himself in her view.

"River? What's going on?" She snapped back to reality and looked at him with a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.

"Don't know. I'm taking a nap. The Captain is going to get us on the planet. It will be a bit shaky, but he will manage to get us there without any fatalities." With that, River walked off to her room, leaving behind two completely confused people.

"What was that about? I thought after…you know…that she was better." Kaylee said. Simon glanced at her for a minute, then resumed his gaze to where his sister went.

"She is better. She's more lucid now that the secret she's been carrying is out, but she is still recovering from what they did at the Academy. Well, she's recovering what she is capable of recovering. What happened at Miranda didn't magically fix her." Kaylee hugged him from behind.

"Do you think she'll ever get better?" Simon turned around and kissed her.

"I hope so."

~`~`~`~ Change in scene ~`~`~`~

Once they landed on Persephone, the crew divided up. Mal, Jayne, and Zoe went over to Sir Harrow's estate to conduct business, while Kaylee, Inara, Simon, and River were left to guard the ship.

"Mal, something about this job don't sit right," Jayne said as they walked out of the estate.

"I know. Everything went too smooth for my liking." Mal replied. Zoe was too busy looking out for a nonexistent assassin to pay attention. Ever since River's lapse of attention, everyone was on edge. Usually she tells someone what she saw. Her tightlipped actions were causing unease.

"Crazy was being crazy again. That only means trouble. I don't like trouble. Especially when I don't know where trouble is coming from, like now."

"Jayne, when I want your opinion on River, I will give it to you. For now, let's just get off this world as quickly as possible and call this a win." The bad feeling in Mal's gut got worse the closer they got to Serenity. His fears were confirmed when they got on ship and Inara was the only person on board. She looked shaken, which meant something went down. It took a lot to shake up the resident "Ambassador." Mal ran up and hugged her. He immediately let go once he realized what he had done. After a moment of awkward shuffling around, he spoke.

"What's wrong?"

"I don't know. River was fine for one moment. The next, she was screaming that a storm was coming for her. She wouldn't stop screaming. She opened the door and ran. Simon and Kaylee went after her. I stayed here so you all would know what happened. Mal, she hasn't screamed like that since…"

"Miranda?" Zoe finished for her. Inara looked at her.

"What? It happened. We all remember it. Y'all don't have to avoid the fact that my husband died. Sir, I can hold down the fort if you and Jayne want to retrieve the rest of the crew."

"Good plan. Let's go, Jayne." Mal turned around and Jayne followed. Inara went to make tea and Zoe quickly made her way back to their…her room. It was only then that she allowed the tears to flow.

It didn't take long for Mal and Jayne to find River, Simon, and Kaylee. They just had to follow the screaming. They followed it through the crowd, who didn't seem perturbed at all that there was someone screaming, until they hit an alleyway.

In the alleyway, River was crouched next to a wall, crying while holding her head. Simon had some man up against the opposite wall. This man was very well dressed, but a bit on the skinny side which was strange for someone with expensive clothing. He must be someone important, which would not bode well for Simon. He was staring at River in a way that sent a chill down Mal's spine. Things were already going poorly for the doc because he was getting hit with a newspaper by some red-headed woman who was screaming at him. Kaylee was arguing with a dark skinned woman who seemed to be trying to make peace and make her way to aid the man, but Kaylee wasn't buying it. She had effectively blocked the woman from getting anywhere near the men. Good for her. These people must be from the Academy. At the least, they were Alliance. Well-dressed man like that? A dead giveaway. Mal got out his gun and heard Jayne do the same behind him.

"Well, well. What seems to be the problem here? Looks to me that you lot are bothering my pilot there. Any problem you have with her, you have with me and my friend here."

*Chinese phrases used (FYI they are from a website, forgive me if they are wrong):

chănmèi de yòu -slimy weasel

mèimei little sister

bao bei sweetheart/darling. Seen both as the translation

Fei hua: Bullshit.

FYI: I do need a beta, so if anyone is interested, let me know :)