Birthday - Part VII
Monday, November 13, 2006

Hank needs a doctor, and the only one they've got is lying dead on the cargo bay floor ... Feedback, as always, is welcome and needed!


“What’s going on?” Smith said, stepping down into the cargo bay from the common area. Then he saw his man on the floor. “Lee?”

“Yeah.” Mal looked apologetic. “My fault.”

Smith’s eyes widened. “You shot him?”

“No. But it’s still my fault he’s dead.” He pushed Smith out of the way. “Best be moving yourself, got a man needs help here.”

Simon was leaning on the doorway to the infirmary. “I heard a gunshot,” he said, holding onto the wall.

“Lee’s dead,” Zoe said quickly, carrying Hank past him.

“He’s …” Simon couldn’t focus on the words.

“It’s up to you,” Mal said.

“Mal, I …”

“We don’t have a choice. Hank needs a doc, fast, and you’re it.”

Simon looked down at his hands, the weaves on the cuts from his nails in his palms, the slight tremor in his muscles. “I’ll need help.”

“You got it.”

“Dope him.”

Mal nodded and loaded a hypo. As he passed it to Zoe, Freya ran into the infirmary.

“How is he?” she asked, glancing at Hank as he slipped into unconsciousness.

“Simon’s going to …” Mal glanced across at the young man, pulling on a pair of gloves. “I don’t know, Frey.”

“What happened to Lee?” She glanced over her shoulder. “I saw …”

“My fault,” Mal admitted. “I should have made sure the man I hit was down.”

“Mal …”

The captain of Serenity shook his head. Nothing she could say was going to help, not right now. “Frey, Hank didn’t have time to figure out where the shuttle went. Can you see what you can do?”

Freya nodded. “I’ll get right onto it.” She put her hand on his arm and squeezed gently. “Be right back,” she said, then strode back towards the Artemis. ---

Simon picked up the extractor, leaning forward to start probing the wound, then paused, trying to breathe deeply, to control the turmoil inside him.

Zoe looked at him, his face paler than usual, the tremble in his hand. “Simon,” she said quietly. “You are going to do this right. If you let him die, I will kill you myself. Dong mah?”

Simon stared into her dark eyes. “Zoe …”

“Do you understand?” she repeated.

He nodded slowly. “Let’s get this over with,” he said, leaning forward again. ---

Kaylee stood outside the infirmary, watching carefully, Inara’s arms draped around her shoulders.

“You should be laying down,” Inara said.

“I’m worried about Simon,” Kaylee said, shaking her head. “And Hank, too, of course. But it’s too soon for Simon to be doing this kinda thing.”

“Mal didn’t have a choice, bao-bei.”

“I know. But look at him. He can hardly stand up.”

It was true. The shaking in his hands had increased, and although he had removed the bullet it was Zoe who was having to stitch up. He was leaning against the medbed, his face nearer grey than flesh toned.

“But you’re pleased he’s back?”

“Of course,” Kaylee protested, looking into the Companion’s face. “He’s just so … he hasn’t even asked about Bethany.”

“Maybe he doesn’t -”

“Of course he does!” Kaylee bit her hand. “’Nara, course he knows. He hasn’t even asked to see her …”

Mal watched them talking, knowing what they were saying, his concern over Simon equally strong. ---

Freya opened the storeroom door on the Artemis and stepped inside, her gun in front of her. The man who had shot Hank was sitting on the floor, staring at her.

“What are you going to do?” he asked.

“Where are they?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Freya sighed. “Now, that isn’t the answer I wanted to hear.” She shook her head. “What’s your name?”

“What? Why?”

“Just wondered what you wanted put on your tombstone. If you get one. Might just toss you out of the airlock.”

The man stared at her. “You … you wouldn’t.”

“I’ve done it before.”

He found himself believing her. “Kyle. My name’s Kyle,” he said through suddenly dry lips.

“Kyle. Nice name. For your father?”


“Where is she, Kyle? Where’s River?”

“I told you, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“So you go around shooting people all the time.”

“You invaded my ship!”

She shrugged. “True. Did that. And I don’t believe you.”

“Your problem.”

“No, Kyle. It’s yours.” She grabbed him by the arm and pulled him out of the store. ---

“Captain?” Kaylee asked as Mal left the infirmary.

“He’s okay, mei-mei,” Mal assured her. “Zoe was right, didn’t hit anything vital. Just … he’s gonna be fine.”

Kaylee grinned in relief. “Thank the Lord for that.” She glanced past him. “And Simon?”

Mal’s face darkened a little. “Not so sure about him.”

“Does he know where River is?”


“So …” Kaylee hugged herself.

“Freya’s trying to find out,” he said, stroking her arm.

“What if you can’t?”

“We will. I kept my promise about bringing Simon home, didn’t I?”

“Yes, yes you did, Cap’n.”

Mal looked at Inara. “Make her take a rest,” he said.

“How?” she asked, her eyes dark and questioning.

“Try. I’m gonna see how Frey’s getting on.” ---

Freya dragged Kyle into the room, pointing to the chair and restraints. “You used this on Simon, didn’t you? We found him here, found needle marks matching this on his head. You put him into this and tortured him. Didn’t you?” When Kyle didn’t answer she pulled him closer. “Didn’t you?” she repeated directly into his face.

“That was Mitch’s department,” Kyle said, glaring at her. “Nothing to do with me.”

“Mitchell Lon.”

He was suddenly afraid. Something in her eyes told him that was the last name he should have mentioned. She started to lift her gun.

“Frey.” A tall man stood in the doorway, pants tucked into boots, braces over his shoulders. Looked like he was in charge.

“I'm going to blow his brains all over the wall. Eventually,” the woman holding him said.

“No. You ain’t. We still need to know where.”

The woman glanced back at the man. “And Hank?”

“He‘s gonna be okay. Seems like our friend here ain‘t as good a shot as he thinks.” The man stepped into the room, invading his personal space. “But I'm betting he knows all kinds of interesting things.” Kyle shivered.

Freya felt the man tremble and glanced at the chair. “Could always take a leaf out of their dirty and disgusting book,” she suggested.

“Might work. Be interesting to find out.”

“I'm willing to give it a try.” She pushed Kyle backwards, the man’s eyes widening in fear as he realised she meant every word she said.

“No!” he yelled, fighting her.

Freya hit him on the chin, a single punch, but it blurred his vision and disoriented him enough so she could slap him down in the chair and activate the restraints. Cuffs slid across his wrists and the headset lowered. He heard the recording instruments start up.

Mal stepped closer. “Which one do you want to try first?” he asked, picking up one of the phials.

“Oh, I was thinking of making a kind of cocktail out of them,” Freya said, lifting a hypo. “I don’t think we have time for finesse.”

“It’s an estate!” Kyle screamed. "But I don't know which one! Mitch didn't tell me!"

Freya turned to face him. “Who’s the target?” Her dark eyes were hard, like specks of the black.

“I don’t know!”

“Not good enough.” Freya took the phial from Mal and filled the hypo.

“I’m telling you the truth. Please, don’t do this!” he pleaded.

Freya tilted her head slightly, tapping the hypo to get rid of any air bubbles. “What did you do to River?” she asked, her voice quieter, but much more frightening.

“It wasn’t me!” he insisted. “It was him. Mitchell Lon. He … he fed her with the Miranda tape, over and over, and drugs, lots of them, until she couldn’t … he’s got her under his control now. She’ll kill just to stop him showing her again.” He cowered as much as he could in the seat.

“That wouldn’t do it,” Mal said, shaking his head. “She saw it before. Lived with it, all of it. Killed all those Reavers. It wouldn’t do it.”

“You don’t know,” Kyle insisted. “He’s got it wired directly into her brain. She can’t turn it off, turn away from it. And the drugs … she’s hypersensitive, I … look, it’s not just the Miranda stuff, but how he’s doing it. I don’t understand, but … I just saw what it did to her. Never heard anyone scream like that. Made her throat bleed.”

Freya dropped the hypo on the tray and leaned in towards him, her face only inches from his. “How do we stop it?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Like I said, that’s not my area of expertise.”

“And what is your area?”

“Finding people.”

“Like Simon and River?”

“Yes, yes,” he said quickly, agreeing with her. “The rest … it’s all Mitch.”

Freya’s hand tightened on the butt of her gun. “That family,” she muttered.

“He said she’s hiding. Her mind’s gone someplace else. He’s accessed her training, turned her back into … look, please. If I knew where they were going I’d tell you. Please.”

“I think he’s telling the truth,” Mal said, his stomach cold.

“Yes.” She walked back towards the door.

“What about me?” Kyle asked, glancing at the man still standing near him. He saw this man shake his head sadly.

The woman turned in the doorway, drawing her gun and firing in one motion. The bullet hit Kyle between the eyes, shattering the head restraint and pushing shards of metal into his brain. His eyes stared sightlessly.

“He helped. Would have killed Hank,” she said. “I’ll get to the bridge. See if there’s any way I can track that shuttle.”

“Yeah,” Mal replied, walking out of the room with her, his hand on her shoulder. ---

Simon checked Hank’s readings. He’d be waking from the anaesthetic soon, and then Zoe would rush down from the bridge, pretending that she wasn’t concerned. He took a deep breath, trying to stop remembering.


The young doctor rubbed his hand across his eyes as he turned, looking at Kaylee standing in the doorway, a small bundle in her arms.

“You should be in bed,” he said. “I know what happened. You should be resting.”

Kaylee looked at him, wanting him to run to her, take her in his arms and … but he was holding back. “I wanted you to meet Bethany,” she said, pulling the shawl to one side so he could see a small face, fast asleep.

He took a step back, lifting a hand to almost ward her off. “I can’t, Kaylee.”

She looked up into his eyes, and saw nothing there. “Simon, this is your daughter.”

“I know. But I can’t.” He hugged himself, trying to draw inside.

“Simon …”

“I betrayed you,” he said in a rush. “I told them everything they wanted to know.”

Bao bei?”

“I told them. Answered every question they asked. Everything I’d done to help River, about you, about Mal, about Freya …” He pointed to little Bethany. “I’m not the man she needs as a father, Kaylee.”

Kaylee felt tears slipping down her cheeks. “But you are. Simon, Zoe told me. How they found you. What they’d been doing to you.” Her voice cracked. “You didn’t do it because you wanted to.”

“It doesn’t matter. I still gave them what they needed.”

“And Bethany needs you.” Her face began to screw up. “I need you.”

“You’re better without me.” He watched her crying and couldn’t go to her. “When we’ve got River back, we’ll be leaving Serenity.”

“Simon, no!” Kaylee screamed at him.

“It’s better. Then you won’t be in any more danger.” He shook his head, drowning the emotions inside him under an avalanche of ice.

“Kaylee?” Mal asked, hurrying into the common area. Jayne was behind him, Zoe running down the stairs from the bridge. “Mei-mei? What is it?”

“Simon wants to leave!” she cried, hugging Bethany to her breast. “Stop him. Oh, Mal, stop him!”

Mal fixed the young man with a stern eye. “Doctor? What’s this all about?”

Simon stood straight, dropping his arms and staring the captain down. “I won’t be staying on board.”

Kaylee moaned, and immediately Zoe steered her to a chair, making her sit before she fell down.

“Mal? What is it?” Inara asked from the door to the cargo bay.

“Not rightly sure.” He looked Simon in the eyes. “Why would you be considering leaving us? What better place have you got to go to?”

“It doesn’t matter. Just not here.”

“So you’re considering taking my mechanic someplace you ain’t even sure about –“

“No. Kaylee doesn’t come with me. She and the baby stay behind.” Simon’s eyes were cold.

Mal was about as shocked as he could get. “You mean to tell me you’d leave your baby and her mother alone?”

“She isn’t alone. She’s got you.” Simon pushed past him, walking up the steps to the cargo bay, Inara getting out of his way. “I don’t intend to discuss this any more.”

“What the hell’s gotten into him?” Jayne asked.

“I don’t know,” Mal admitted, moving past the big man. “But I intend to find out.” He followed Simon into the bay, noting Smith standing where Lee had fallen, but ignoring him. “You just hold there, doctor.”

Simon turned to look at him. “Why? I told you, I don’t care to discuss this further.”

“Well, you’re gonna.” Mal crossed the floor to him, stopping a couple of feet away. “That little girl in there is breaking her heart because of you. I think you owe me an explanation, Doctor Tam.”

Simon laughed, but it was cold, cynical. “I don’t owe you anything, Captain Reynolds.”

“No?” Mal hitched his thumbs into his pants. “I took you on board when no-one else would, fed you, gave you shelter, you and your sister. Nearly got every crew member killed on more than one occasion over you. I think you owe me for that.”

“And I saved your lives. All of you. More than once. I think the debt is paid.”

“Mal.” Freya’s voice sounded over the com, but no-one paid attention.

Mal glared at the young doctor, noting the dead look behind his eyes, the cold expression. He’d seen it before, the day Kaylee had introduced them that first time. Before he’d warmed to them. Before he’d become family. “Ain't good enough,” he said.

“Mal,” Inara called. “Kaylee’s just told me … Simon said he betrayed us all.”

“Betrayed …” Mal shook his head. “What the diyu –“

Simon nodded. “She’s right. I did. I betrayed you, told Lon everything he wanted to know. Just how to turn River back into a killing machine.” He smiled coldly. “And this is the kind of man you want to stay on your ship?”

“Mal?” Freya’s voice again.

Mal took a deep breath. “Simon … where we found you, what they’d done to you … anyone would have told them anything.”

“Would you?”

“Can’t say,” Mal said. “Ain't been in that position.”

“No, but Niska killed you and you still didn’t break.” There was bitterness there now.

“He wasn't asking for information,” Mal pointed out. “Just wanted me to die slow.”

“But you didn’t beg for mercy. Beg him to stop.”

“Did you?”

“No. But only because I couldn’t speak.” Simon closed his eyes, trying not to see, to feel, to remember. “I thought I was a strong man, but they took me apart, Mal.”

At least he was using his first name, now, Mal thought. Might be a good sign. “What did they use?” he asked.

“What?” Simon asked, looking at him in surprise.

“What did they use on you? Do you have any inkling?”

Simon swallowed. “A mix, I think. Venedrin, Carbaxin, maybe some Penethederine.”

“What do they do? Describe the results.” Mal was aware of the others standing behind him in the cargo bay, but concentrated on the young man in front.

“Pain. Escalating pain. Hallucinations. Loss of motor power. Suppression of pulmonary and cardio response. Activation of –“

“How long?” Mal asked. “How long could a man stand that before he did what they wanted?”

“I …I …” Simon stammered, then his clinical brain kicked in. “Five hours. No more.”

Mal stepped closer to him, going to take the young man by the arm before he flinched away. “Simon, near as we can figure it, you were in that chair nearer twelve. Twelve hours, Simon. More’n twice what you say a man can take. You think I could – hell, any of us could take it that long?”

Simon stared at him. “I …”

A baby cried.

“Simon, that’s your daughter. She’s gonna grow up healthy and strong because of you. And she’s gonna be proud of you.” Mal stepped back. “You didn’t betray us, Simon. You didn’t betray River, either.” He smiled slightly. “You did good, son.”

“You know,” Jayne added unexpectedly, “if’n you don’t go see to Bethany, I will.”

“Don’t you touch my daughter,” Simon said, striding past Mal and back towards the infirmary.

“Mal?” It was Freya in person this time, running into the cargo bay, her weapon drawn. “What the tyen shiao duh is going on?”

“I think Simon might’ve come to his senses.”

“Good. ‘Cause I think I know where they are.”

to be concluded


Monday, November 13, 2006 2:53 AM


Man, with the way things were going, was half expecting Simon to pass out during that surgery on Hank...something tells me that if that happened, Zoe wouldn't let Simon live to see Fathers Day...

Typical Simon, to try and be selfless by leaving...gorram fool sometimes.
Then to find out that he's lasted so much longer than he even thought possible...very nice.

And damnit! Let's get River back, although with what Mitchell Lon has apparently done to her, something tells me that could be a very, very dangerous proposition.

Again, I'm loving this series. so keep it up!

Monday, November 13, 2006 4:41 AM


Oh my God, I really thought Simon wasn't going to budge on staying on board ... please tell me there will be a great, mushy, lovey-dovey reunion between Simon, Kaylee and Bethany right at the beginning of the next chapter? Please, I need closure, I need Simon to hug Kaylee and say hello to his little girl!

Oh, and I need the rest of the crew to get River back ... hurry!

Monday, November 13, 2006 7:26 AM


Damn...that was a mighty crazy chapter, Jane0904! Especially with Simon's temporary mental shutdown and refusal to seek comfort from Kaylee and Bethany, since that is more telling of his fragile condition than him fighting to stay functional while patching Hank up:(

Mighty glad you got Mal to talk some sense into Simon. Especially impressed that you had Mal actually think to use Simon's clinical abilities to recognize the stuff they were pumping him with and how long a person was expected to last so he could inform Simon he surpassed the limites by 200%. Though I can't imagine what Mal would have done had Simon told him the breakdown comes at hour 15 of the torture...


Monday, November 13, 2006 10:30 AM


Oh, this is just gripping! Love it to bits and can't wait for the crew to find River and for Simon to put right what that twisted *tamade hundan* did to her. Really liked the way Mal drew Simon back from the edge, from a very dark place back into the light. Would have been heartbreaking if he really had left Kaylee and Bethany. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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“Then do you have a better suggestion? No, let me rephrase that. Do you have a more sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve us getting lost and freezing to death?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little standalone festive tale that kind of fits into where I am in the Maya timeline, but works outside too. Enjoy!]

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"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

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Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

Monied Individual - Part XIX
“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVIII
Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

Snow at Christmas
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

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Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

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He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XV
“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]