Lost in the Background - Smart or Right
Monday, November 12, 2007

Third in a set of five oneshots. Simon and Book wait as the Reaver ship passes overhead.


Simon’s heart turned to ice when he woke to hear the captain’s voice alerting the crew over the comm, only to be jerked across the spectrum to warm anger when he heard the reason. Reavers? This was a cruel joke.

He wondered darkly if Mal had Tam blood in his veins, recalling how River used to joke in just the same manner. She had seldom had nightmares, so he had believed her when she had come running into his room crying frightenedly: “Simon, it’s time to leave, we have to go! They’re here! They’ll break in!” The cortex had warned citizens of Osiris to beware of a gang on the loose, and so Simon had followed her, not asking until they were halfway out of the house what they were running from. And of course, she had turned with her wide brown eyes as innocent as a kitten’s, and whispered: “Reavers!” Then as she giggled and in his frustration he had chased her through the house, she continued to taunt him by not screaming and waking their parents so she could be rebuked.

But he thought it was not wise to leave the comm message at that. Just to be sure, he came out of his room to see Zoe looking dead serious. Not for the first time that day, he found himself thinking This is not my best day ever.

It was like having one’s worst fears confirmed—if Reavers were worse than your beloved government torturing your sister, which he was not sure was true.

Running back to the infirmary, Simon made sure River had not yet woken, and found the Shepherd standing with his head bowed and Bible clasped to his chest by Kaylee. Feeling suddenly ashamed that even a Shepherd out of the world for years recognized the non-fairytale and very real danger of the Reavers, Simon made a silent oath to cure his naïveté by any means possible. It would only be a deathtrap out here.

But as his mind fully processed Zoe’s words, Simon felt his heartbeat quicken rapidly. No, no, that wouldn’t do. Think about surgery, think about medicine, think about what drugs he had that would finish them before the Reavers got to—no, no, no. So he watched River, timing her deep breathing, trying to emulate it.

He thought how horribly ironic it would be if they were killed by Reavers mere days after he rescued River from the opposite end the of the civilization spectrum. Reaching out a hand to rest on his still slumbering sister, he silently restated his vow to protect her at all costs.

Shepherd Book raised his head after a moment and sighed. “Doctor,” he said in a low but steely voice, and Simon turned to him. “Doctor, I have never spoken for either suicide or mercy killing, but in these circumstances I think it would be a greater sin if we did not do something for these innocents if those monsters board. Do you have the sort of drug that would send them to the Lord peacefully?”

“I do,” said Simon slowly, turning around and moving to where he kept his medicines. He had not wanted to admit that such a drug might be necessary, but the Shepherd’s concurrence with his thoughts left him with few doubts. He could not help asking: “Is it likely to end like that?”

Seemingly sensing the fear Simon was trying to hide, Book offered a grim smile. “I do not believe any man could rightly guess what might happen on a ship like this. I have faith that the Lord will keep us safe, if only for these precious ones here, but I do not think faith gives a man license to be unprepared.”

Simon tried to respond likewise, but only managed to look pained. “I have faith in very little, but nothing divine; I have seen what that leads to.”

Book’s brow furrowed, but his expression was not hard and he drew a little nearer to Simon. “You are not the only one to say so on this ship. The Alliance?”

Simon gave a harsh little laugh. “No, surprisingly. My parents.”

Book said nothing, but Simon felt like continuing. It was not the time or place to reveal so much, but if he did not speak he would think about why he was preparing overdoses and that would be worse. If nothing else, talking relieved some tension. “I saw that they believed, oh they believed, so fully in harmony and peace. The Alliance was enlightened to them, it followed the right path, and we were to follow, to rise up with the greatest. I followed the precepts, the noble eight-fold path willingly, devoting myself to that idea which I saw more important than all others: the protection of life. And my parents told me that I was doing good works, that I was with the enlightened.”

Simon’s voice did not waver, but he did not face Book as he dealt with the medicine.

“They didn’t tell me that all their belief was a facade; I found that out on my own. They did not care about any life but their own, or maybe those of their children if that advanced them. It was not all a lie—they were believers, but believers in something that was beyond my acceptance, believers in a philosophy that has one look to oneself before anything else, and utter faith that it would carry them to happiness. When I found that out, when I finally saw what humanity was, and then how humanity united in the Alliance could act, I lost all faith. There was no enlightenment, there was no dharma, there were only selfish men.”

Simon set down the last dosage with a little more strength than was needed. “You see, Shepherd, utter faith in anything is nothing but blindness.”

Book stepped forward and put a hand on the young man’s shoulder, and Simon did not flinch. “Oh, my son, we all have misused faith, have misplaced it. But that does not make it worthless or despicable.”

Simon turned to the man sharply. “It is not despicable to be willingly blind? What good can it do?”

“It saves lives,” said Book bluntly, and Simon paused. “Your blind, naively blind, hopelessly blind, faith in your love for your sister led you to this place. A sceptic would have given her up, would have looked at the risks, mourned, and gone on. Do you think you could have done all this without faith?”

Simon said nothing, gave away nothing in his expression.

“You have utter faith in love, son, and never let yourself be told that that is worthless or despicable.” The almost fierceness that had been in Book’s tone then disappeared, and he grew softer again. “Illogical, certainly. Blind, even more, and dangerously so. But right. And if you wish to rise above selfish men, you must fully accept that you cannot always do something smart and something right.”

Then, Mal’s voice came over the comm, assuring them that the Reaver ship had passed them by. The atmosphere shattered a million-fold. Book let out a long sigh, but Simon didn’t know what to do in his relief, and so he just stood, feeling a little foolish.

“Best put those away now, son,” said Book, looking at the doses laid out. Then he quietly left the infirmary.

Simon quickly followed his advice, and then, sleep frightened away but with nothing else to do, looked over the infirmary. Other than his own things, which were mostly surgical instruments and medicines that River might possibly need, there was little there. It was pathetic, really: bandages, a few antibiotics, and some very basic medical tools. He knew they would be at Whitefall soon where he would be freed from this crew, but could not help but wonder how they had survived this long, and how they would continue to survive after he was gone.

He was fairly certain that Kaylee would live, but she would not be fully healed when he left, and there was simply not much here. Of course, there was no place to get medical supplies nearby, but he thought that he might leave a list of supplies that Reynolds would be wise to get. It would probably be best to discuss it with Inara, who seemed to be on the captain’s good side and might even have a few of the supplies he presently desired.

It was hardly a smart move, he thought on further reflection, helping people who plan to cruelly toss you to the winds and sands. But he felt it was right.



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Crew, But Not - Epilogue
FINALLY! The final chapter, as the crew gets back to normal and Simon reflects a little on the adventure.

Crew, But Not - Chapter 13
Lord Tembriar and men board Serenity, while the crew try to hold off until they can escape.

Crew, But Not - Chapter 12
Mal, Zoe, and Jayne come back to the ship while Book gets Wash and Kaylee, but they haven't escaped yet.

Crew, But Not - Chapter 11
Mal needs to escape, and the rest of the crew find themselves in sticky situation of their own, while River and Simon follow Book's plan.

Crew, But Not - Chapter 10
The job is turning out to be troublesome. What's up with Lord Tembriar, and what will the crew do about the incoming feds?

Crew, But Not - Chapter 9
Arriving on Greenleaf, Mal and co. go to finish the job, and Simon and River are left on the ship again.

Crew, But Not - Chapter 8
Things are both better and worse for the crew. Simon starts to wonder about River, worry about his duties on the ship, and what was in that cryo box anyway?

Crew, But Not - Chapter 7
Simon and River find something odd with the cargo, and Simon and Inara match their skills in a game of chess.

Crew, But Not - Chapter 6
Finally, a new chapter! The cargo comes aboard, and Simon starts creating patient profiles.

Crew, But Not - Chapter 5
Simon and River struggle to find their place in Serenity's crew. Mal and his team finally meet the client, while Wash and Kaylee spend some time with the new crewmembers and Book.