Crew, But Not - Chapter 6
Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Finally, a new chapter! The cargo comes aboard, and Simon starts creating patient profiles.


Chapter 6

Mal appeared surprised as he exited the shuttle to the almost distant buzz of violins and the trill of flute, followed quickly by Kaylee’s bright laugh. He took a couple steps forward, and his mouth twisted as the thought crossed his mind that he recognized that piece.

“Gorramit, they’ve gone and made us all civilized,” commented Jayne disgustedly.

Zoe merely made a noise that sounded more satisfactory than not, and walked down the steps into the cargo bay.

No one in the kitchen looked up as the other crew members came in, but whether it was intentional ignoring or distraction was not obvious. Jayne was never one to stand around, and marched past it all with a grunt to sit down and watch Kaylee set up the pieces for another game of checkers, though Book had apparently gone to take some rest.

At the same time, Mal spoke: “Ahem? The job, folks?”

“Oh, right,” said Wash, looking up from where he had Simon’s encyclopedia in several pieces on the kitchen table. “So sorry, Captain, for entertaining ourselves instead of waiting patiently until your newest order came in.”

“We got ourselves a pickup,” said Mal, ignoring that. “The cargo’s waiting, and there’s a landing platform—bit oddly shaped, but I trust your skills.”

“Back to work then,” said Wash. “Party’s over, folks.” He rose with a little sigh and headed for the door.

“Didn’t say that,” said Mal, almost protesting but not quite.

“How big a cargo, Cap’n?” asked Kaylee, putting away the board despite Mal’s words.

“Big,” said Mal. “In fact, we’ll need to clear up some leftover business so as not to have the goods mix. Doc, your cryo box will need to find a new home.”

“I see,” said Simon, attempting to reassemble his encyclopedia, a slightly overwhelmed hopelessness on his face.

“Why didn’t y’ sell it on Boros?” asked Kaylee, stepping in out of pity to tidy up Wash’s leavings and hand the new and improved encyclopedia to Simon.

“Ah—” began Simon, and then words failed him. There were a few good reasons—no time, too suspicious—but none of them would be the real one. It had never crossed his mind to sell any of his possessions. He was always on the purchasing side of business.

“Never mind,” cut off Mal. “We just gotta pick up the cargo, and hang in orbit until Inara graces us again.”

“Orbit, Cap’n?” asked Kaylee.

“Oh, so we get no fun at all, then, that’s the game,” grumbled Jayne.

“Not gonna spend more than I have to on this fed-polluted rock,” said Mal, with a significant sideways glance at his new medic.

“I’m grateful,” murmured Simon, not entirely seriously. He wasn’t sure what to do with the cryo box yet, and so did not follow as Kaylee left. Perhaps he should ask one of them about the famous nooks and crannies of Firefly transport ships that Kaylee had tried to regale him on.

Jayne growled a little, and petulantly tipped back his chair and put his boots on the table, muscular arms crossed over his large chest and eyelids darkly hiding his eyes. River’s folk music still trilled out of the tiny player Simon had brought, and she sat nearby, humming and fiddling with the checker pieces that had not yet been put away. She had not even looked up as new voices had started speaking, and as new figures had replaced others in her peripheral vision. The pieces were now lined up as if for one of those old-style dances that the high-class Core folk still practiced at balls, men on one side, women on another. Her hair was getting tangled again, as it followed the movement of her head as she swayed—Simon had given up trying to do more than keep it relatively maintained, as it seemed that just thinking about something made little tangles sprout where it had been smooth before. River’s humming was surprisingly on key.

Then Jayne pushed his chair forward, and slammed his hand down on the music player. He hit the right button, thankfully, and the music faded quickly away. “This place ain’t a tune hall,” he grumbled, settling back.

River halted and looked at him, eyes large but not as upset as they might have been. “It’s dead,” she said, eyes fixed unblinkingly on him.

“Go listen to the noise in your own room,” muttered Jayne, but he couldn’t quite hide the uncomfortable fidget that always overcame him around River.

River just stared. Her face was expressionless. Then, in a lightning movement, she scooped up the checkers and flung them at Jayne. Caught off guard, he lost his grip and his tipped chair went to the floor with a loud thump.

“Aiya!” cried the big man.

“River!” called Simon, just noticing the situation and coming over quickly to put a hand on her shoulder.

“Killer,” said River, eyes still locked on Jayne, but with a slightly colder expression. Then she turned and grabbed Simon’s arm.

Jayne scrambled to his feet, fear and anger in his eyes. “You,” he said, thrusting a finger towards Simon, “aren’t keepin’ the deal. She ain’t allowed to go nutbrain.”

Simon wanted to snap back in defense of the sister who Jayne was murderously glaring at, wanted to reprimand the great beast for ruining his sister’s serenity, but he knew he couldn’t. “It’s all right, River,” he said quietly, pocketing the music player. “We can go in the cargo bay,” he suggested.

He took her hand and began to walk for the door, when she pulled on him. Looking back at her, he saw only the back of her head and, beyond it, Jayne’s face, suddenly becoming slack-jawed. River turned back, a gleam in her eye, and Simon sighed, knowing she had probably stuck her tongue out at him.

They walked into the bay as the ship rumbled and trembled before lifting off. The inertial dampeners were not fully operational in atmo—Serenity was a transport, not a luxury liner—and Simon felt a bit nervous as he heard some continuous rattling as they rose from the dock. Zoe had begun moving the boxes as soon as she came back on board, and now with the help of Kaylee they were almost all dealt with. There was one left: Simon’s cryo box.

“Need help with that?” called Zoe from across the bay as Simon stood with one hand tapping on the lid, wondering how and where he was going to put it.

“There’s a nice little spot over here,” said Kaylee, pointing. “It’ll stick out a bit, but not enough t’ be noticed, really.”

“No heartbeat,” said River, leaning over so her head rested on the top of the box, one ear pressed against the cool metal.

“That’ll be fine, thank you,” answered Simon. In a quieter voice, he added, “River, we need to put the box away now.”

Kaylee came over, brushing her hands together, while Zoe followed with a small lift of some kind. “Too heavy to lift manually,” said Zoe. “But this should do the trick. Kaylee, you go on one side, and doc, you on the other.”

“What are we doing?” asked Simon.

“Liftin’ it a little, so she can get the tool in place,” said Kaylee. “Just a couple inches.”

Simon couldn’t help but breathe out quickly as he strained his muscles to lift it even that much.

“It legal to make things this heavy without even a wheel?” asked Kaylee, working hard herself.

“No need to whine, I’ve got it all set,” said Zoe with a smile. The other two dropped the box with relieved exhalations. Zoe pumped up the lift a little, and then began to roll it across the bay.

“Least she don’t need us t’ push,” said Kaylee. “So,” she continued curiously, “whatcha gonna do now? Never got t’ play checkers with you, y’know.”

“I—need to keep River from Jayne,” said Simon succinctly.

“I suppose ‘away’ means ‘med bay’ for ya?” asked Kaylee a little dejectedly. She had stepped a little closer to him a moment before, but now her weight shifted back.

“He avoids it. And, there’s plenty of work to be done,” Simon excused, partly recognizing how pathetic it sounded.

“Oh really, like what?” challenged Kaylee. “Y’ can’t make it anymore clean or organized than perfect.”

“No, I’m going to start collecting data for all my new patients. Medical history, allergies, blood type, toxin levels, sleep habits, physical fitness—things I’ll need to have on call if more serious things come up than a bad bruise.” That was more accurate, and something he probably would have done even if the negotiations had kept the Captain and the mercenary gone all day.

“Maybe I can make an appointment after we load up, then?” asked Kaylee, hopefully.

“I don’t see why not—I should have all my previously collected data sorted by then,” answered Simon. He looked around and saw River crouching behind one of the other boxes. “Excuse me,” he said, and quickly made his way across the bay.


“How we doing?” asked Mal, coming down into the cargo bay after a short trip to his cabin.

“This is a big load!” exclaimed Kaylee. “I c’n barely move around in here anymore.”

“Had to secure most of it—don’t want it tumbling around,” commented Zoe, buckling the last strap. “I think Lord Tembriar might be absent-minded,” she added, raising her eyebrows as she examined the warehouse appearance of Serenity’s bay.

“We have enough fuel to carry this load to Greenleaf, Kaylee?” asked Mal.

“Oh, that’s no problem, Cap’n,” assured Kaylee. “The real problem is if we have to make any dodging or tight turns. Serenity’s all weighed down; she needs the straight and narrow.”

“We’re carrying perfectly legal cargo,” said Mal. “Don’t see any dodging needin’ to be done.”

“’Nara back yet?” asked Kaylee.

”She waved—in about an hour,” answered Mal.

“Good! Time for a checkup,” said Kaylee.

“Whoa, there, mei mei,” said Mal, touching her shoulder as she turned to leave. “Somethin’ wrong I should be aware of?”

“No, Cap’n,” said Kaylee, grinning. “Just that doc wants us all t’ let him know about lots o’ things that he needs. Allergies ‘n’ stuff.”

“Don’t know if I like the idea of him nosin’ into my life,” muttered Mal, but then caught the warning look that Zoe gave him. Not sure whether it was his attitude alone or the fact that Kaylee had not left yet, he said nothing else.

“It’s a good cargo,” concluded Zoe, exhaling and resting her hands on her hips.


“This feels just like back home,” said Kaylee, sighing as Simon shone a light in first one eye, and then the other.

“You had regular checkups?” asked Simon, the traditional doctor’s small talk, though not entirely without genuine curiosity.

“Oh yeah, Ma wouldn’t let us get sick,” said Kaylee, blinking heavily as soon as he removed the light. “I don’t think he were a real trained doctor, but he did all this sort of thing.”

“Mm, yes, I’ve heard about the doctors outside of the Core,” said Simon in a tone that said he was significantly leaving out information. “This isn’t my area of expertise, actually—holistic checkups and continual visits.”

“You’re a surgeon, right?” asked Kaylee. “You didn’t check up?”

“It’s—complicated,” said Simon after a pause, and out of the corner of his eye he caught Kaylee’s grin. “Well, I had to have the same knowledge of basic medical issues, but I almost exclusively used that knowledge in the E. R. I didn’t deal with the day-to-day problems, and my checkups were limited to when my patients were recovering. Most of them I never saw again—a good thing, considering how I always met them. Careful, this might feel cold.”

“I dunno, it all sounds awful,” said Kaylee, looking distinctly uncomfortable as Simon looked inside each ear. “Why’d you want to see people all, y’know, broken and hurt?

“I didn’t,” Simon answered simply. Kaylee eyed him, and he shook his head. “I don’t think you can understand. There will always be hurt, so there has to be someone to fix it.”

“No, actually that makes sense,” said Kaylee. “Surgery though?”

“I didn’t like hearing on the Cortex that there was nothing doctors could do for a victim. With the technology and knowledge we’ve developed, I don’t think that’s anything more than an excuse for not trying hard enough.”

“Y’always talk this much when you’re doctorin’?” asked Kaylee with a grin.

Simon stopped, realizing how close and honest the conversation had become, and shook his head apologetically. “No, this is why I chose need to keep up a conversation and so no risk of talking patients to death. I’m sorry.”

“Didn’t say I didn’t like it,” said Kaylee encouragingly. “Just thought it was kinda interesting. Guess ya feel comfy here.”

“Only here, actually,” said Simon bluntly, turning to write down more information, missing as the smile on Kaylee’s face faded. “Now, I think your preliminary bloodwork will be ready about now. The rest will take longer, but I can do most of the tests I need.”

There was a slight shifting of the ship and a thump from above. Simon’s hand shot out to grip the counter, and Kaylee’s face instantly brightened. “’Nara!” she cried, adding as she started to leave the room, “If y’ don’t mind, I’d rather not see what’s in my blood.”

“No, no problem,” said Simon.

“She’s gone,” whispered River, her voice sounding ominous from inside the largest metal cupboard.

“River, are you still in there?” asked Simon, leaning down to look in the dark.

“Forgotten,” said River, the light coming into her dark space making her eyes look large and luminous. “Not for long.”

“Just—don’t stay cramped in there too long. It’s not good for your spine.” Simon supposed he should be grateful she had contained herself quietly while he was busy—she didn’t often do so.

With what Kaylee had revealed to him—more than enough to fill the last hour, as she was quite open about everything—and with what he had organized of River’s information, he had two medical files that were almost complete by his former standards. Now as for the rest of the crew—he was not yet sure how willing they would be to offer up information. Shepherd Book and the pilot seemed like they would be helpful, and perhaps the first officer as well. The Companion, Miss Serra? Usually Companions had one doctor who kept all their information for privacy reasons, but then, Companions usually did not travel to the edges of space on transports.

“All forgotten,” came River’s echoing voice from beneath him after a couple minutes of silence. “Won’t cry.”

“May I come in?” Inara had indeed returned, looking almost as refreshed as she ever did. But the almost might have been due to the unflattering light of the infirmary.

“Of course,” said Simon. “What do you need?”

“Actually, I came because of something you need,” she said, stepping forward with a large file in her hand. “You are collating extensive medical data on the crew, Kaylee tells me?”

“I didn’t say it quite like that,” said Simon.

“Nether did she,” said Inara, softly smiling. She came forward and handed him the file, her face turning serious. “I trust that you understand the need for confidentiality in my case,” she said. “This is just for emergencies.”

“Of course. I trust there will be no need for me to look at it,” said Simon, taking the file to his cabinet.

“You were quite busy in Boros,” marveled Inara, looking around at the shelves that Simon had set up and filled with new supplies as well as old. “The equipment, though?”

“No, that was already here,” said Simon. “Just not in plain view. The last owner of this ship made several large purchases—old machines, but functional. I’ll need some more time to become entirely familiar with their layout—I’m not surprised the rest of the crew didn’t even realize their existence.”

“Good luck,” said Inara.

“What for?” asked Mal, coming in like the picture of innocence, hands stuffed in his pockets.

“His newly discovered medical equipment, of course,” answered Inara back, brighter but with the constant twinge of sarcasm she used. “Dr. Tam found the remnants of an old hospital in here.”

“Im-ag-ine that,” drawled Mal. “That’ll save me some cashy change, too, me plannin’ to refit the whole place in glittery new style ‘n’ all.”

“I’m sure Dr. Tam is just as grateful,” Inara tossed back, “both for the savings and for the relief of not having to rely on your judgment in picking out medical equipment.”

“Always like a man being grateful to me,” said Mal.

“Well, if you’ll excuse me, my business is done here,” said Inara, sweeping past him.

Mal continued past her into the infirmary, withdrawing his hands from his pockets. “Hear tell you’ve been askin’ lots of questions,” said Mal.

Simon looked up from where he had been tactfully pretending to ignore the light warring between the other two. “As your medic it would seem careless to be ignorant,” he answered.

“Hmm, yeah,” said Mal, looking carefully over everything around him. “Just don’t expect to be allowed to nose into all our lives.”

“I had no intention of nosing,” said Simon. “Kaylee and Miss Serra offered what I wished for without my needing to ask.”

“Inara gave you information?” asked Mal curiously.

“Confidential, of course,” countered Simon in a final tone.

“Right,” said Mal. “What kind of information you asking, exactly? Kaylee described it in a every-bit-o’-life-history sort of way.”

“Medical information,” answered Simon. “Blood type, physical conditions, your case, knowledge of war injuries and any medical problems in your family will be paramount.” He raised an eyebrow and waited for Mal to reply.

“Zoe tells me that it’d be good for you to know all this,” said Mal slowly.

Simon said nothing.

“I reckon—she’s not wrong,” continued Mal.

Simon inwardly enjoyed the almost-squirming of how Mal said those words, but outwardly he remained professional. “So then I’ll be able to get the information I need?”

“Not now,” amended Mal. “But I figure...I can give it to you sometime.”

Simon nodded.

“Well, that’s all,” finished Mal, and he turned and left.

“Remembered!” called out River, as she crawled from the cupboard.

“Remembered what?” asked Simon curiously.

“You know,” she assured him, and started out the door.

Simon followed, pondering what had just happened. A hint of content crept onto his face. He had gotten some cooperation—much less than he was accustomed to when dealing with patients, and it each word had sounded forced from the Captain’s mouth, but after expecting hostility or at least stubbornness, Simon found that the result was welcome.

Author’s Note: Since this story is almost exclusively from Simon’s point of view, and since he obviously can’t understand River’s behavior, it is never explained explicitly here. However, just like in the series and movie, River says and does nothing in this story that is not somehow relevant. I’d like to know: do you like the mystery in River’s behavior? Have you figured any of it out? Do you want a key or explanation? Just let me know.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007 7:10 AM


Actually, it's kinda fun being in the dark over River - makes me feel like one of the gang! This is shaping up really well, and you have all the voices down perfectly, particularly Mal's. And as for Jayne being petulant ... there's somthing I'd like to have seen on the screen!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 8:14 AM


Excellent as usual! I adored the beginning when River scared Jayne into tipping over the chair. And Simon's reaction was perfectly in character.

Everyone's reactions were great. And I like not knowing what River is doing. Because its Simon's pov, we shouldn't know, and I'm glad you're writing it that way!

I'd rather be kept in the dark, just like in the show!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 4:56 PM


River's explanations usually make sense after repaeat viewings or when more of the story is revealed. I think you're doing great.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 8:56 PM


love the Simon,Inara, and Mal infirmary scene with slight undertones of jealosy on Mal's part. Inara would be Simon's civilized haven on that boat and she was always in the Tam's corner from day one.

characterizations are good.. I never get River clues so I'm no help there,
I'll have to wait for your next post

Thursday, November 15, 2007 1:48 AM


very much enjoyed this!:)


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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.