In The Ether 6: Breaking The Silence
Monday, May 15, 2006

The crew attempts to set a new 'verse record for brooding. Kaylee takes a page from Jayne and falls back on violence to make a point.


A/N: I don't own them

Weeeeeee! I made it. I rewrote Kaylee's fixing up Simon about a billion times. There was the sappy version, the sexy version, the angsty version, the VERY angsty version, the funny version, and I think there may have been a dino version at one point. I settled on the mild-violence-with-speechifyin'-and-a-bit-of-fluff version, because Kaylee rarely gets to wax eloquent and it's a nice change for her.

My only worry is that I resolved it too quickly, but it seemed right to me somehow.


It took Wash three days at full burn to get to Beylix, piloting a ship as quiet as a grave. An ebullient person by nature, Wash was chafing at the lack of conversation aboard the ship. He considered giving the sagging crew one of his patented "emergency landing" speeches, or even just getting on the comm and yelling "hull breach" loud enough to wake the dead. Anything had to be better than watching nine people lick their wounds.

Wash himself was pretty straight forward. Simon and River had proven themselves allies and friends on more than one occasion - especially with the Doc saving Zoe's life, which got you lots of points in Wash's book - and helping your friends was what Wash did. He excelled in support roles, and sometimes that role meant running out to break some heads, and sometimes it meant pointing your nose to the closest star and leaving a plasma wake behind you. They were currently working with the latter plan, but he was ready and willing for the other one.

Mal had more or less installed himself on the bridge. Sometimes he was nearly frantic, poring over starcharts, fuel logs and ammo stores, as if he were planning the greatest campaign of the Independent War. Other times he just stared quietly, parked in the co-pilot seat and looking intently out the Black as if it held an answer he was seeking. Wash didn't interrupt the captain in either phase, knowing that the man would come to his own conclusions on what to do. Privately, he hoped Mal decided to give the elder Tams a world-class ass kicking.

Wash had gotten the whole story from Zoe as soon as Mal dismissed the crew after the fast-paced - and in Wash's opinion, artfully flown - rescue. Her response was almost undetectable, but Wash could read Zoe's moods nearly as well as Mal, and he couldn't miss the tension. Like Mal, Zoe learned loyalty to her people from the War. River had been betrayed to fullest definition of the word, and Zoe wasn't going to let that stand. But unlike Mal, she had to keep her calm. Mal may have been the brilliant leader, but Zoe was his right hand that kept things smooth. She usually just stood squarely between the two chairs, offering support to both men while awaiting her turn to right the 'verse.

Jayne was, unsurprisingly, the most predictable. Besides a marked increase in his weight-lifting and gun-polishing schedule, he made a point to pop onto the bridge and deliver his opinion on current events to anyone there. Since his opinion changed as his mood changed, and his mood quite often hinged on what was being served for lunch, Jayne found he had quite a lot of opinions to deliver. His current diatribe was "load us up in them shuttles, go back, an' blow 'em to the next moon", which had only recently replaced "load mooney and doc into them shuttles, go way the hell out, an' blow 'em to the next moon." Wash quietly reflected that Jayne was quite poetical when riled.

Much like the captain, Book had camped himself in the dining room, bible in hand and a veritable fountain of tea being prepared around the clock. He hadn’t said nearly a word to anyone since Zoe had explained what was going on, even after Wash had come down the get some coffee and straight out asked the preacher if he had any wise counsel. Book merely shook his head, eyes on his bible. Wash had just shrugged and walked away, figuring everyone dealt with things differently, but later on Zoe took very careful notes of their interaction, an unreadable glint in her eyes.

Inara's reaction was probably the most surprising. Something Wash had never expected clicked inside the Companion: motherhood. Since there were no clients to be had in the middle of space, Inara had become River's surrogate mother in every way she could. Brushing her hair, talking about boys (or lack thereof, in River's case), trying different dresses on. The types of thing Core-world mothers who were not psychopathic, power hungry monsters would do with their little girls. Inara had even taken to tucking River in at night and helping her with her meds, which, Wash thought, was probably a good idea, seeing as Simon was quite scarce lately.

The doctor hadn't been seen in days. Literally. Kaylee had tried to lure him out to talk that first night, but Simon had locked his door and no amount of pleading made him let her in. Kaylee, bless her innocent soul, had assumed he was asleep, but Wash suspected different. Simon was the type of man to face his demons privately, and he'd managed to rack up a pretty large share of them. But Wash's compassion soon gave way to annoyance. Taking a day or two to get yourself together was understandable, but Simon had now passed from adjusting to outright sulking. His sister needed his help, and the wear on Kaylee was beginning to show.

Of all the people on the ship, Wash considered Kaylee to be his best companion besides his wife. They both loved the boat fiercely, and would often leave a comm link open between the bridge and engine room as they were up late tinkering and flying. Sometimes Wash would listen as she hummed to herself, or Kaylee'd snicker quietly as she heard another epic dino battle take place. He usual cheerful manner had quickly dealt with the elder Tam's revelations: Simon and River were onboard and safe, so there wasn't anything more to worry about, end of story. But her complete inability to get Simon to even open his door and talk was starting to tear her up, and if Wash knew anything, there was no place for a frown on Kaylee Frye.

So, with a heavy sigh, Wash quickly dropped Serenity into a docking port and left to find something to eat. Maybe he could talk Zoe into going into town. One more hour on this boat, and he might do something drastic. Like speak out loud.


Kaylee sat on the top step of the aft stairway, staring down into the passenger dorms. Today would be the day. She was going to get to him if it killed her, or more likely him. Simon Tam was the most brilliant, amazing, and, most recently, downright infuriating man she'd ever met. She may never get what she truly wanted out of him - although Kaylee was forever optimistic - but damned if she was going to go one more day watching him self-destruct like this. She just needed to get him alone and talking. So far, he'd been quite crafty in avoiding her. But, no matter how willful he was, there was one thing in her favor.

At some point, he'd have to pee.

A soft whisper of shoji screen made her smile in delight. She watched from the shadow of the staircase as Simon poked his head out, looked both ways to make sure no one was around, and quietly padded down the hall to the bathroom. Kaylee spared a brief moment to admire unkept, unshaved, and otherwise disheveled Simon, but remembered her mission just in time. She quickly made her way down the stairs and into his room, hiding herself out of sight next to the door.

Not two minutes later, Simon ghosted back in, eyes fixed firmly ahead of him as he shut his door and threw himself facedown onto his bed again. Moving quickly, she reached over and locked the door. "Simon."

He nearly jumped a foot off the bed, rolling over and looking wildly around before noticing her. "Wha? Who? Kaylee? How did - ?" His heart slowed down a bit. "Uh. Can I help you?"

"Came to help you, actually."

"Ah." Simon's features closed up; Kaylee could almost see him shutting her out. "I'm fine. Really. But I need some time alone, if you don't mind."

"Oh, come on, Simon." Kaylee would start by trying to jolly him. "Been three days, now. Jayne's gainin' weight from eatin' your dinner every night."

"I'll prescribe more exercise for him." He looked away, refusing to meet her eyes, not wanting to talk about anything right now. "If that's all, I'd like to be alone now."

Kaylee gave up on jolly. She'd spent three days waiting, and she wasn't stopping now. Simon could yell and scream and all he wanted - hell, she'd welcome it, because apathetic Simon was all manner of scary - but she wasn't leaving until he let it all out. She summoned the same tone of voice Inara used on Mal when she wanted her way, putting all her resolve into one word. "No."

For a minute she was afraid that he would be immune to even that, but she finally got a small reaction. He blinked. Just once, but that was enough. "No?"

"No. I ain't leavin' 'til you tell me what happened, an' then when I go you're comin' with me." She folded her arms and stared him down. "Now. Out with it."

"Kaylee, really. I hardly see how this is productive. I appreciate the sentiment, but I think I'm far more qualified to know what's good for - " Kaylee had never, not once in her life, hit someone full out. But she felt that in this one instant, she could be justified. She wasn't going to let him retreat behind his smugness and sarcasm. She darted forward while Simon started his patronizing speech, and slapped him square in the face. He needed to vent? Fine. Anger was cleansing. Best to get it over with so they could actually talk.

"You may be the big doctor, Dr. Tam, but you ain't very smart sometimes. This ain't about qualified an' you know it."

"Oh, no? You have a medical background you're hiding? Perhaps psychology?" His voice turned ugly. She'd riled him up, giving him an outlet for his rage, and it seemed he was taking it. Simon grinned snidely, obviously holding the idea of Kaylee doing anything medical in contempt as he desperately tried to make her leave.

Kaylee merely shook her head. "Nope. You ain't gonna hurt me, 'cause I know this ain't you. Simon don't treat folks - me - this way. Ain't gonna chase me away with bitty words. Don't take a genius to see a friend in need, an' you're my friend, like it or not. So go ahead. Get mad."

"This isn't worth getting angry over, because there is nothing to discuss," Simon told her, angrily. "So we're friends. Feel better? Anything else you need?"

"Just you."

"I really doubt I'm that indispensable."

"Don't be an ass, Simon. You know 'Nara's takin' care of your sister 'cause you're busy poutin' in here? Or Cap'n an' Zoe're up on the bridge, plannin' how to go back an' make sure no one hurts River like that again? All this plannin' and' carin', just for you an' her. An' where's big brother? The noble man who broke in an' helped her when no one else would? Oh, that's right! He's havin' himself a temper tantrum an' can't be bothered to come out of his room!" Kaylee really did try to keep her voice level and reasonable, but her frustration was cracking through.

"Fine!" Simon's voice rose to match hers. If she wanted yelling, she'd get yelling. "You want to know? It's so important to you to know how the two people who are supposed to love us did the most horrific thing you can ever do? You really want to hear how low humanity can go? How many lies and how much sickness can be bottled up inside one human? Would that make you happy, Kaylee? Would my misery buoy your spirits so you can feel all proud of helping?"

"Yes!" Kaylee stopped, anger draining, and looked sheepish. "Well. To the first part, anyway." She sat on the bed next to him. "Seein' you miserable don't make me happy, Simon. That's why I'm here, 'member?"

Simon cocked his head, staring at her, face flushed and heaving. She looked so earnest and contrite, and he just couldn't stay mad. "I remember." He blew a huge sigh. "You really want to know that badly?"

"Every word."

He furrowed his brow. "There's so - how do I start?"

"Start at the beginning. When ya get to the end, stop."

Simon chuckled, a sound that warmed her all the way down. "Alice in Wonderland?"

She grinned back. "It was my favorite."

"'Down the rabbit hole' does seem a good description of recent events."

"Yep. But stay on track, sweetie. How 'bout you tell me what bother's ya the most about the whole thing. Start there. Get the big one gone."

Simon nodded, and thought, putting things in order in his head. "They knew." Kaylee just nodded, having heard it all from Zoe, but still wanting him to say it. "The whole time. They told me I was crazy, over-reacting. But I was right, and they knew it. And they lied to me about it, knowing what was happening and not caring."

"I'm sorry."

"I mean, the other stuff - power, money, prestige - I can understand, to an extent. I was a Core doctor. Respected. Trusted. Ludicrously well paid. It's...well, honestly, it's intoxicating, in a way. I can see how the chance to get a lot of it at once would be attractive, especially when you also get to remove the precocious child with a tendency to embarrass you at parties."


"I was the favorite. Polite, handsome - or so I'm told - and a first-rate doctor. I was social gold at gatherings. But River? She never took to the rules of society, as you've no doubt noticed. She always had her own drummer to march to. It cause mother no end of trouble. I know it sounds so petty, but I can honestly see her doing it just to get River out of her hair. She probably even justified it as some type of 'extra schooling' to correct what she thought was wrong with her daughter." Simon shook his head, knowing Kaylee would never understand that concept. he barely understood it himself, and he had lived it. "That's what bothers me the most. That's what keeps me up for three days straight. Does that make sense?"

"Yeah." Kaylee cocked her head, noting his expression and body language. "That's 'bout half of it, I think. But that ain't all of it."

Simon looked surprised. "No?"

"Nope. Remember how I said things with workin's speak to me?" Simon nodded. "Well, I spent a lot of time studyin' you, too, you may have noticed. An' right now, you're still screamin' somethin' fierce."

"I am?"

"Yep. Somethin's got ya scared to come out of here. So bad you're even ignorin' River. An' since River's right here an' your parent's ain't, there's gotta be more. Tell me what you're afraid of."

"I'm not afraid."

"Ain't leavin' till you spill it."

Simon looked hesitant, not wanting to admit what he was pretty sure she was getting at. "Me."


"I'm afraid of myself. Because I get it. Mother and Father were misguided and woefully lacking as parents, but some part of me gets why they did it. And I'm afraid I'll follow suit. One day, maybe tomorrow or next week or next year, I'll get tired. And just once I'll say 'it's no big deal' and I'll lose her again. The blue-hands will find us, or Jayne will sell us out, or some other thing will happen. I've got nothing to rely on, now, except myself, and I'm seeing how easy that is to lose. I can't take the chance I'll slip."

Kaylee was quiet for a full minute before finally regarding him with something that looked a lot like pity. "Nope. I was right the first time. You're not that smart for a doctor."


"You ain't that kind of man. I seen you go through everything the 'verse sees fit to throw at you, an' you always come through. I weren't lyin' when I said noble. It ain't in ya to not do right by River."

"Easy to say, but it - "

"An' so what if you do slip? It can happen, Simon, you ain't perfect. You ain't gonna hurt her even then."

"How come?"

"'Cause I see seven people - an' that includes Jayne - willin' to back you up. Zoe stood right next to ya an' defended you. Cap'n, Jayne an' Wash jumped to help ya soon as River said somethin'. "Nara's doin' your job 'cause you can't. I hear you talkin' to the preacher some nights, tryin' to figure stuff out. They're all here, 'cause you need it."

"And they all have their motives, no doubt."

"Just like everyone else in the 'verse. Hope that doesn't surprise ya. But that don't mean they're all bad, neither. Point is they're here for ya, for whatever reason."

"What's yours, then?"

Kaylee leaned forward and lightly kissed him on the cheek, right where she'd slapped him. "Thought that was obvious, Mr. Top-Three-Percent."

"Because you like me?" Simon looked genuinely confused.

Kaylee nodded, suppressing the eye roll he so richly deserved. God, he was dense. "A whole lot. Maybe love."

"L - love?"

She grinned and shrugged. "Mostly depends on you."

"But, why? I'm rude, apparently egotistically self-involved - "

"Oh, good God, Simon. You fishin' for compliments? I may like ya tons, but don't push it."

He finally smiled normally, the full smile he only gave to River and Kaylee. "No. Just trying to - never mind." He leaned forward and hugged her, surprising her so much it took her a moment to hug back. "Thank you. I don't deserve it."

"Let me decide that, sweetie. Now." She stood up and grabbed his hand. "Cap'n's lookin' all manner of harried 'bout his plan. Maybe our criminal mastermind could go an' help him out?"

"I should at least check on River, yes. And maybe make sure the Captain doesn't blow himself up." He stood up and headed towards the door, but stopped short of opening it. "Kaylee? About the things I said earlier. I didn't mean to say that you're not...I mean, you're very capable and not - "

"I get it, Simon. Wasn't you doin' all the talkin'." She reached up and put a hand on his cheek. "But don't do it no more. I like ya all swai, an' I don't wanna mess up that pretty face with more slappin'."


Monday, May 15, 2006 7:09 PM


AWWWW! this was great!! I love Kaylee being pushy with Simon! My one wish, could she kiss the boy, please?!!

Monday, May 15, 2006 7:21 PM


Oh, I LOVE that she slapped him!

>Kaylee spared a brief moment to admire unkept, unshaved, and otherwise disheveled Simon

That was just....I think I squeeled very unladylike.

I was hoping for a kiss darnit! Maybe next time?

Very well done. I love Kaylee's determination to stick out whatever he said in his anger.

Monday, May 15, 2006 7:24 PM


A kiss on the cheek doesn't count :D!!!! But as long as you promise to get there, I'm with ya all the way!

Monday, May 15, 2006 7:54 PM


>you mean the whole lip-smackin', tongue-shovin' movie kiss, right?

Uhm....if its not too much to ask....Yes please . . . :)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 1:06 AM


yay for Kaylee talking sense to the doctor. I like the glimpses of the rest of the crew too. Inara all motherly is just how I would expect her to react.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 2:28 AM


For some reason I really liked this line...

"One more hour on this boat, and he might do something drastic. Like speak out loud."

I also enjoyed the slapping... maybe that says more about me!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 5:26 AM


Yay! The muse is back! Another wonderful chapter. I love Wash's frustration at the moroseness of the crew, and Inara getting all motherly with River, but Simon's sulky/snarky attitude was just perfect! And Kaylee's reaction? Spot on! Giving him time then making him talk, even if she had to get physical with him, was just so true to her. Awesome job! Hope the muse sticks around!

"I love my captain."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 9:40 PM


Actually, as the older sibling of a person with issues only vaguely simliar to River's (but still troubling), I can sympathize with Simon. Fear of just reaching a point where you just wanna dump the responsibility off your shoulders cuz you have just reached a point of no return concerning looking after one's brother or sister. Though I wish he had realized sooner that the whole crew was behind him and River in this;)

Also, I loved Kaylee's abnormal (but freaking necessary) hard love act! I would have just loved Jewel doing this had she had been given the chance to take a bite on this kind of meaty emoting during a much longer series run:)


Friday, October 20, 2006 3:44 PM


"At some point, he'd have to pee."

I'd like you to know that I'm typing this from my laptop as I just sprayed the coffee I was drinking all over my monitor and keyboard. ;) G-d that was just the most perfect line!


You must log in to post comments.



In The Ether 13: Secret Agent Man
Simon takes a turn at super spy as the crew tracks him down.

In The Ether 12: Motivations
A brief history of Simon Tam

In The Ether 11: Telling
Simon and Regan tell each other off, Jayne tells Kaylee a little story, and Wash tells everybody about basic chemistry. Bonus: Jayne actually quotes Shakespeare! Kind of.

In The Ether 10: Technical Difficulties
Jayne goes trophy hunting, Kaylee and Wash attempt to explain technical things to Mal, and eventually everyone realizes that they left something at the last stop.

Generic S/K Plot Outline
Inspired by a story posted at, I present the outline of pretty much every S/K fic out there (including my own, so no one take it personal-like).

Dino Tales: Loss
The dino army mourns the loss of one of their own.

The Old Switcheroo
Jayne and Simon wake up with unique perspectives on life.

In The Ether 9: Minor Complications
Jake and Jasper check out Serenity, River secures some backup, Jayne discovers his protective side, Simon gets physical, and Kaylee meets an old flame.

In The Ether 8: Lady's Choice
Zoe fixes the plan. Kaylee shows Simon how to turn up the heat.

In The Ether 7: Shore Leave
Mal gives everyone a day on Belix to calm the nerves. Wash gets suspicious. A plan is hatched.