"Not Sleeping"
Thursday, April 12, 2007

"The Captain isn't the only one who cannot sleep."


TITLE: "NOT SLEEPING" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Mal. Simon. RATING: G. STATUS: Standalone. Set after the Big Damn Movie ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE:

SUMMARY: "The Captain isn't the only one who cannot sleep." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

It was quiet. Dead of night. No one stirring but him. The loose cog in a wheel that didn't turn no more. Least that's how it felt. Except now, when the Black clothed him in her stillness and the quiet hum of Serenity's engine in idle lulled his aching heart and soul. It was the time when he could just be. When Captain didn't mean a damn and all the troubles of the day had yet to be born. A time when...

"Was it worth it?"

The quiet voice was like a jolt, jarring him out of that calm moment of tranquility that came so rarely to him that he felt cheated. Angry almost except he had no idea what Simon Tam was talking about. "*Shenme*? You should be sleepin'."

Simon ignored the comment, his mind fixed on something else. Boy sure had focus. "Miranda."

The 'verse came crashing down on him then. Another Serenity Valley only this one was his own creation. May have been the right thing to do but it cost him. Cost them all. And afterwards, had the 'verse changed? Had the evil men that used the might of the Alliance to crush anyone daring to want to lead their own lives been brought to book? Not a one. But it was the personal cost that stopped him sleeping nights. "If you're askin' me if I knew what was gonna happen would I do it again? Can't say I'd be so keen."

"It was a mad, foolish and utterly irresponsible thing to do."

Funnily enough it didn't sound as if Simon was belittling or demeaning him. Just stating a fact. Facts he could handle, attitude though just tended to rile him. Squeeze the reason out of him until only the anger remained. The mess it left was never pretty. "That it was."

For a couple of minutes neither man spoke. Mal went back to looking out into the Black, his calm returning in little isolating waves, not yet merged back with the whole. Simon glanced into the darkness but it held no appeal for him. He had never understood the fascination it held for the Captain or why running across the 'verse in a *lese* transport ship that had seen better days should equate with an ideal like freedom when every planet held potential dangers and the constant fight for survival could be lost in something as innocuous as contracting a virus or getting hit one too many times in some god-awful bar fight. "Was it worth it?"

The Captain turned his head and looked at the doctor. Man was standing there with something of a lost look on his face. No, not lost, wistful. Mal instinctively knew they weren't talking about Miranda any more. "Was what worth it?" He asked quietly, as if to speak louder would spook the man and leave the Captain with another little mystery to add to the litany of things stopping him from sleeping.

Simon let his eyes roam around the bridge. Walls, ceiling, floor, consoles. When he looked again at the Captain there was a mild quizzical look on his face. "This."

"You meanin' Serenity?"

The doctor gave a little shrug. "Serenity. This life you lead."

"You're leadin' it too, doc."

"No, I'm just along for the ride."

"You sure about that?" The Captain turned fully and faced Simon. "'Cause I seem to remember someone fittin' your description mastermindin' some criminal activity on Aerial."

"Needs must where the Devil drives, Captain."

"So I'm the Devil now, is that it?"

"Sometimes." Simon took a slow breath. "When you need to be."

He shouldn't have asked but what the *diyu*, he wasn't sleeping anyway. "What about the rest of the time?"

For a moment Simon didn't answer. "The rest of the time I think you're just as lost as the rest of us."

Surprise then astonishment had the Captain coughing up a smile like a broken lung. "I ain't the one who's lost here." "That wasn't what I meant. I didn't mean geographically."

"I know what you meant an' you're wrong. I'm right where I need to be."

Simon didn't back down but his tone was mild, non confrontational. "I meant emotionally."

Silence fell, like it was sentient and cautious. Not wanting to disturb the two men or jar the tentative truce that had befallen them. Mal had been so sure she meant to stay this time. Inara's comment had been unsure, her smile hesitant, her eyes full of a sudden shyness that made him believe that for one, beautiful, life changing moment he was seeing the real woman. Not the cultured Companion, the artifice of a woman who was so gifted in her wiles that even her wiles had wiles. No. The real Inara Serra. Then. Without a by-your-leave or explanation of any kind she had upped and left. This time the look in her eyes had been like the fall of a coffin lid closing off the light, the sight of her, the very air he breathed. The competent click of her heels as she left like nails driving home the unspoken vow that she would not be back.

It felt like the air was vanishing. Lungs hardly able to grab enough of what was left to inflate anything but a tiny corner of his ego. But Simon was waiting, wanting answers, and all Mal had was questions. Questions in place of heartache. He was over lusting after Inara. But that didn't mean it didn't hurt. Had lost Wash and the Shepherd. Now he'd lost the Companion only she had never been his. Told him right up front when the journey had started but he hadn't listened. Hadn't realised at the time that the words weren't simply a tease but a warning.

"How come you're not sleepin'? You say somethin' dumb an' Kaylee kick you outta bed?"

"I'll leave that to you, Captain. I could never hope to compete with a master."

Both men stared at each other then the skin around Mal's eyes crinkled and his stern face broke into a laugh. A good wholesome humour that made Simon's lips twitch. He put a hand on Simon's shoulder and tried to control his laughter enough to speak. "Doc, don't take this the wrong way, but when it comes to Foot-in-Mouth Desease you got the rest of us beat. Kaylee must love you somethin' fierce to keep forgivin' you, takin' you back into her bed..."

"Dragging me back." Simon mumbled.

Both men froze. The Captain because he had heard what Simon said, and the doctor because he hadn't meant to say it out loud. Simon flushed so deep he wished the ground would open up under him. Mal could see it now. The exhaustion in the doctor telegraphed in the weary way he moved, like a man trying to conserve an energy he no longer had. A slow smile settled on the Captain's lips like it wasn't going anywhere for a very long time. "Go to bed, Simon." He said in a quiet but firm tone, his look all manner of amused but not mocking. "Get some sleep."

The look on Simon's face was priceless. Mal chuckled and removed his hand. Who would have thought Kaylee so insatiable? He waved his hand at Simon as if shooing away a flying bug.

"Go. Scram. But Simon? A word of advice?"

The doctor just stared at him, half in and half out of the door.

"Learn to sleep when she does or you'll never make old bones."

Minutes stretched then joined hands into the first hour before what would have been Dawn on a planet. The Captain stared out into the Black, his peace restored in a way that just sleeping couldn't achieve. Humour shone in eyes that had been so bleak, his heart and soul warmed back into feeling just thinking about his crew. How each and every one of them was precious, even the doc. Whether Simon had intended to make him feel better or not it had worked. His mind hopped from crew member to crew member, pausing at the end to return to the one who he fretted over and grieved with the most. Zoe. Straightening he decided to get some coffee on the boil then he would go take her a mug. If she didn't just faint with the novelty of it the gesture might just chase away the last of whatever nightmares were plaguing her. Then, when she had her first good mouthful he would tell her why Simon hadn't been sleeping.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*shenme* = what *lese* = crappy *diyu* = hell


Thursday, April 12, 2007 4:33 AM


Very nice! You've captured them both so well, which doesn't surprise me in the least. *g*

I love the last line! Mal is so psychotic! *giggles*

"I love my captain."

Thursday, April 12, 2007 6:07 AM


I LOVE your use of imagery. " Silence fell, like it was sentient and cautious"; "even her wiles had wiles"; "click of her heels ... like nails driving home the unspoken vow"; "Minutes stretched then joined hands"; (just to name a few) ... This is amazing use of imagery and added so much to the story. Also, good beat on what it takes to cheer Mal up. Nice story. :)

Thursday, April 12, 2007 6:23 AM


Really good characterization of Mal and Simon. And the imagery....wish I could write half as good as you do.

Thursday, April 12, 2007 6:34 AM


Oh, this was most excellent. I love the conversation between Mal and Simon. They've got such an interesting dynamic and you did very well with them here!

And Mal wanting to tell Zoe why Simon isn't sleeping is just great!

Can't find a thing to complain about! :)

Thursday, April 12, 2007 12:55 PM


Love that Mal/Simon ineraction. You write beautifully. (PS> Thanks for the lovely comment on my story. It was my first post, and I was antsy.)

Thursday, April 12, 2007 2:07 PM


"Straightening he decided to get some coffee on the boil then he would go take her a mug. If she didn't just faint with the novelty of it the gesture might just chase away the last of whatever nightmares were plaguing her. Then, when she had her first good mouthful he would tell her why Simon hadn't been sleeping."

I love your internal monologue for Mal. Both eloquent and rim-ish. Beautiful story.

Saturday, April 14, 2007 6:44 PM


Wonderful - a great balance and illustration of Mal and Simon's relationship. Mal's internal thoughts regarding Inara leaving were spot on and sharp - biting just as you imagine the loss to be.

Absolutely wonderful. Thanks!

Sunday, April 15, 2007 9:40 AM


Wow...gotta say I am all kinds of impressed here, AMDOBELL. Mal and Simon moments, IMO, are really fun to tackle because of mirrored core natures framed with completely opposing shells. And having this kind of quiet moment of honesty and wisdom happen between them? Takes a certain kind of writer to get it down pat;D

Do wish that Inara hadn't buggered off, but maybe it would have been the outcome anyway had the series lasted long enough to get past the storyline pared down to make the BDM. Have to agree with previous statements and say Mal's internal monologue about how her departure affected him was just all kinds of brilliant in the imagery and emotions it comjured up.


Sunday, April 15, 2007 1:40 PM


Thanks to everyone for all the shiny comments, it is appreciated. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


You must log in to post comments.



His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.