In The Ether 12: Motivations
Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A brief history of Simon Tam


A/N: Don't own them

Yes, this is still the same story. I nkow it's disjointed and Simon's quick to volunteer as an action hero (now with Stethoscope Action!), and there's a reason for that. All will be revealed. MWAHAAHAHAHA.

P.S. Oh, Leiasky: remember my cracked out theory? Here we go!


"Dr. Tam?"

Simon stared at the patterns in his coffee, his brain peacefully resting after yet another save in the operating room. It was pleasant and comfortable, that little rush of endorphins you got from completing a particularly difficult surgery, and knowing the truth that of anyone in the hospital only you could have done it right. Reattach a whole leg. Now THAT was one for the books. Of course, it was also damn tiring. Six solid hours of reconnecting nerves and mending muscles. Good lord, he needed a nap.

So it was that Simon was so caught up in his sense of job-well-done and general fatigue that the voice didn't really intrude on his consciousness until someone tapped his shoulder. "Dr. Tam?"

"Huh?" Simon looked over the rim of his cup. "Oh, John. Good afternoon." Years of manners forced him to stand and offer his hand, no matter how tired he was. This was the chief of surgery, after all, and one didn't leave him unacknowledged if one wanted to further his career, no matter how bright it seemed. "Sorry. You caught me in an introspective moment, I'm afraid."

For his part, John - or more properly, Dr. Watson, and don't think for a second there wasn't a million running jokes about THAT name; but told privately, of course - waved Simon's apology away. "Think nothing of it, my boy. After that performance with the Nguyen child, I'm expecting to be calling you 'sir' any day now." He grinned widely, but with a twinkle in his eye that spoke of supreme confidence in his own ability, and therefore he was just kidding. Dr. John Watson was tall, fit, and always ready with a quick joke or sarcastic quip. The man could wow a group of residents with simple, homey, down-to-Earth-That-Was shop talk, and then turn around and play up his surgical research wing to the mightiest government investor. He and his wife Claire - along with Simon's own parents, Gabriel and Regan Tam - pretty much ran the social elite in Capitol City, and by extension most of Osiris. Anyone who knew Dr. Watson was on the path to great things.

So it was quite fortuitous, then, that John had taken to Simon on his first day as a newly-minted doctor, where he was assigned to basic triage and surgery in the trauma ward. It took the older man only minutes to realize that Simon's gifts were not being properly exploited in the fast-paced but mind-numbing environment. Two phone calls later, Security had re-coded Dr. Tam's clearance badge and escorted him up to the ninth floor and into to the office of John Watson, Chief of Surgery. A quick interview was conducted, mostly for form, and Simon was on his way out the door less than an hour later with a doubled salary, reporting to the Surgical Wing for orientation. Dr. Watson had changed Simon's life with - quite literally - the stroke of a pen.

And with the man now standing in front of him, Simon was as attentive as one could be on two hours sleep. "I'm fairly sure you're going to still be running this place by the time I retire, John. Is there something I can do for you?"

"Well, no, but I thought I might bring you this news in person."

Simon's heart sank. There was only one reason the Chief of Surgery would come see him in person for "news". "River?"

John nodded softly, regret on his face. "She's had another relapse, I'm afraid. Dr. Rosen is in with her now." He continued to watch as Simon deflated from the inside out, sinking back into his chair. "I asked him to give you any further information directly. He'd also like to speak with you again, if he could. See if you had any more information on what triggered her initially and show you his findings."

Simon thought back, searching his memory for even the smallest clue of when or where River's episodes had began. While he had many memories of her being irrational and mean, there was nothing that he could not chalk up to your average little sister/big brother relationship. No, up until the start of her advanced academic career, River had been a fairly normal, if brilliant, child.

The first clues something was wrong started soon after her trip to the oddly named Academy. Simon had snorted at the name - as if it was so important that it only needed a singular noun for identification - but quickly changed his tune upon visiting during River's orientation. There was no doubt that this facility was for the best and brightest children in the 'verse. Top of class programs in music, dance, art, and several sciences, all taught in open air, seminar-style classrooms to "stimulate unfettered intellectual growth." And the cafeteria was pretty good, too. After that one day trip, Simon had been sold, and River even more so. Mother and Father had wisely left the final decision up to the siblings, knowing that no one was better able to help River decide. It had been no contest; River was enrolled the next day with massive excitement all around.

Two weeks later, the letters began. At first they were a little strange, with some odd misspellings and grammer mistakes that River wouldn't normally make. But the soon got worse; the cohesiveness degraded as if there were too many people writing the letter at once, like an entire game of "telephone" played out on a page. After a month of this, River was sent home. Once she arrived, Simon immediately insisted she be taken to the Psych Ward at his hospital, promising the best care possible. The elder Tams agreed instantly, even calling in a few favors to get the best doctor available. River was ultimately diagnosed with acute idiopathic schizophrenia and confined to the hospital until a cause or at least a proper medication regimen could be found.

"I'm sorry, John. I can't think of anything else it might have been if it wasn't something at her school." Simon shook his head. "I hate to ask this, seeing as I am on duty now, but could I - "

"Of course. I'll see to the post-op personally. Go be with your sister." John grabbed for the small data chip containing Simon's charts, and dismissed him with a wave. Simon nodded his thanks and bolted for the elevators.


"Ni hao, mei mei." Simon poked his head through the door. "How're you feeling?"

"Simon!" River's eyes were wild as she considered her brother from her bed. "They want to talk to me, they're making me talk..."

Simon was across the room in an instant, hugger her and trying to keep her shaking to a minimum. "It's OK, River, you're safe now, you're safe." He looked up behind River's back to meet the eyes of her doctor, who smiled sympathetically and motioned his head towards the door, asking to talk alone. Simon nodded back and pushed River back slightly. "River, I need to go talk to with the doctor. You'll be fine here for a moment, right?"

"No! THey come when you call."

"Well, I'll be sure not to call anyone. But I'll keep an eye on your door from outside, how's that?"

"Pfft." River rolled her eyes at her brother's obvious slowness. "They always come when you're not looking, Simon." She huffed back to bed, fear forgotten, and pulled the covers up over her head. Simon heaved a large sigh and followed Dr. Rosen into the hall.

"Anything," he asked desperately.

"Nothing good," Rosen replied. He was a brilliant doctor - you didn't work here unless you were - with deep studies and research grants into psychiatry and neurology. There was no one on all the worlds more qualified to try and help River. "So far, no sign of a trigger from what you've told me. We did pull some odd 'shadows' off of a brain scan, but nothing definitive." He plugged his own data chip into a reader on the wall, which immediately projected a holographic scan into the air in front of them. "We have what seems to be some type of damage here and here. Not anything I've seen before, so the cause is unknown, but definitely could be contributing to the problem."

Simon leaned closer, looking at what appeared to be...holes, for lack of a better word. "If I didn't know any better, Doctor, I'd say those were almost abscesses." As a trauma surgeon, Simon was very familiar with infection and what it could do to healthy tissue. "Can you get abscesses of the brain?"

"Ordinarily, no." Rosen shook his head. "Honestly, the only thing I've seen that comes close is the results of that bio attack during the war. Melted down a whole unit from the inside out."

"Bio attack? Like bombs? But who would - "

"Yes, bombs, you know, biological warfare. But this can't be the same thing. If it were, our pathogen scanners would be going nuts." Rosen turned off his projector and sighed. "I'm afraid we just don't know."

"What's our next step, then?"

"Well, I'm going to take some blood and tissue samples again, send them out to a specialized lab. Don't worry, Simon. Go home, have a shower. We'll know more in a couple of days, I promise."

"Call me as soon ask you know anything?"

"Of course, Simon. Say hello to your mother for me."


It was amazing, upon reflection, how the concept of "a couple of days" could mean the difference between a relatively normal life and absolute chaos.

Despite dismissing the idea earlier, Rosen had been essentially correct. The "specialized lab" had actually turned out to be an Alliance facility for biological agents, and they quickly confirmed that River was not randomly sick, but had been deliberately poisoned with some as-yet-unidentified strain of virus. A meeting of all the Tams (excepting River, who was complaining loudly about the color of the jello in her meal) was quickly convened to discuss the situation.

"We've been doing some digging in the school's records, now that we know more of what to look for." Just like the vids, Alliance security personnel were definitely dark and sinister, but also very boring. This one had been droning on for fifteen minutes now, and still hadn't even introduced himself. "And we found this." The man flipped over a series of captures from a security feed at the school. The first one showed a young girl, not much older than River, with bright green eyes and brown hair. The shot had been taken for slightly above at some type of cafe, and SImon could make out the silhouette of his sister seated with this mystery woman.

"Who is she?"

"Kaywinnet Lee Frye, or Kaylee, according to River. Apparently, she was River's study partner in one of the general education chemistry classes. She's Rim-born, not a native, but it seems she can put together or take apart nearly anything mechanical you put in front of her. A great talent, to be sure, but it also leads to other interesting experiences."

"Such as?"

"What she didn't tell anyone was that two years ago, she did a stint as mechanic on an old shipping vessel, most likely smuggling. We tracked that vessel." The man flipped another picture onto the table. "That vessel - an old Firefly named 'Serenity', after the valley - is captained by this man. Malcolm Reynolds."

Simon looked down at the picture, noting the man's brown duster, intense blue eyes, and steely gaze. This was not a man who was trifled with easily. "I take it from the coat that he was Independent?"

"Oh, yes. Sergeant with a brevet rank to Captain, fought to the last man at Serenity Valley. Never did officially lay down arms." The Alliance officer crossed his arms. "Here's what we think happened:"

"Miss Frye was born on what can charitably be called a 'backwater', and her only reasonable way off that planet was hiring on with a ship. Serenity, under command of Reynolds, landed and she somehow convinced them to hire her. She spent at least a year flying around with him, and he most likely spent that same time convincing her of the Alliance's evil ways.

"We know that Reynolds never formally offered his surrender nor officially was repatriated by Parliament. Combine that with the constant rumblings of Independent sympathizers on the outer planets, and he starts to fully fit the profile of a man who just can't let the war die."

Father sat forward, thinking it through. "So he convinces this poor girl that it's best to fight the Alliance from the inside, and gets her a place in the same school as River?"

"Exactly. We're not convinced River was the intended target; it's more likely that Frye was supposed to test a delivery system, and River was on hand at the time. Sad to say, it seems to have worked."

Mother burst into tears, but Simon was hardly able to notice. All he could see was two sets of eyes: his sister's brightly shining as she danced to her favorite pieces, and the malevolent, calculating gaze of this other woman. It took him only seconds to make up his mind. "Take me to her. Now."

"We can't," the officer said, sadly. "After River was sent home from the Academy, Miss Frye dropped out of school. We speculate she's back onboard with Reynolds, delivering her report. Rest assured we are trying to find the ship as we speak."

"And when you do?"

"We haul all of them in for questioning. But we have to proceed cautiously; Reynolds is smart and can mark an agent a long way off."

"Not good enough." Simon stood and paced. "He can recognize a trained agent? Then send me."

"I'm sorry?"

Simon's adrenaline surged; he'd never known he had this in him. "Send me. They took the greatest thing in my life, and I will not stop until they are found. They don't know me, and as I have no training, I'm not able to be marked. Send. Me."

Mother looked up from her tissues, surprised. "Simon, dear. You're not really able to do that, are you? I mean, they have people more qualified - "

"Actually," she was cut off by another man sitting in the corner that had to this point said nothing, "the young man has an interesting idea." The man stood to match Simon's pacing and extended a hand. "Alexander Worthington III, but most call me Alex. Or 'sir'." He smiled thinly. "Are you serious about your request, son?"

"Completely." Simon didn't hesitate a second.

"I see. Well. Why don't you and I come have a little chat." He turned to the eldest Tams. "Sir, ma'am. Please tell your daughter she has an amazing champion in this boy. Please don't worry, I'll not let him get hurt quite yet. We're only talking." Alex led Simon out a door.

Father looked over to the remaining officer. "Is he seriously going to send my son out as a bounty hunter?"

The oficer shrugged. "Possibly. It's happened before, when we needed some outside help. The better question is, can your son pull it off?"

Mother looked up, a mixture of pride and worry on her face. "Oh, yes. God help anyone who gets in his way."


Tuesday, October 24, 2006 8:49 PM


Mmmm, so Simon either started out hunting Reynolds and Crew down for harming his baby sister, or momma!Tam got creative with her, uh, cerebral eraser?

I vote eraser. It's going to be fun to see Mal Reynolds go up against Stethoscope!Action Simon. Oh boy is he going to keep the Serenity crew busy! *grin*

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 9:35 AM


Arrrghh, mind control games! Run away, run away!
I think it's Mom pulling it on Simon. Looking forward to much angst and confusion...

Thursday, October 26, 2006 3:30 AM


Hmmm. Looks like being the main benifactor of the Academy has its advantages. Stupid mind-altering equipment. Can't wait to see how you get Simon out of this one!

Thursday, October 26, 2006 7:27 AM


I'm confused. But I trust you'll unconfuse me with the next chapter. Kaylee as some Alliance agent? I'm not so certain I buy that.

Mind manipulation by mommy Tam, that, I buy!

I don't remember this specific cracked theory. I recall you've had several . . . :P

Thursday, October 26, 2006 1:45 PM


Ya know...I would bet that Joss & co. would have come up with this scenario for an episode (like the "Buffy's a mental patient and everything we've watched so far is a dream world" episode)...just to mess with out heads;)

Still...this is some mighty f-ed - but brilliant - stuff her, ManicGiraffe! Definitely loving how you're running this storyline:D


Tuesday, November 14, 2006 11:14 PM


I'm curious to see where you're going with this story. Hope to see more soon.


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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.