DUPLICITY Series: 23. "The Heart Does Not Grieve"
Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Simon discovers why the Alliance were so generous to his father. House Madrassa waits anxiously for their benighted guest to regain consciousness and Badger plans to come up with a way to turn his predicament to his advantage."


TITLE: "THE HEART DOES NOT GRIEVE" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Zoe/Wash. Kaylee/Simon. RATING: G. STATUS: Sequel to "WHAT THE EYE DOES NOT SEE". ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at

SUMMARY: "Simon discovers why the Alliance were so generous to his father. House Madrassa waits anxiously for their benighted guest to regain consciousness and Badger plans to come up with a way to turn his predicament to his advantage." 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

* * * * *

They were all tired. Some mentally and some physically. The relief at the news that the first operation had gone so well caused a palpable loss of tension which had Serenity's crew grinning like idiots. Kaylee was so proud of Simon even though he tried to explain that he had expert help from Dr Foss and his father. The protestations slid off her without penetrating. Simon was her hero and that was that. He stared at her, once again marvelling at how easily Kaylee put a happy gloss on the 'verse.

"You're amazing, do you know that?"

Her grin became a blaze of light that nearly blinded him, such innocent joy behind it that he thought it powerful enough to rival several suns. "*Weishenme*? Just speakin' the truth is all."

He gently brushed a lock of hair out of her eyes, carefully hooking it around her ear. The act gave him a little time to sort through what he wanted to say, well aware that though they were lagging behind the others his mother was likely to drop back and interrupt at any moment. He didn't know that River had already anticipated his need for a quiet moment with Kaylee and was doing a sterling job of distractiing his parents. "You do know we will have to operate again?"

"*Qu*, which is why I'm glad we got the shiniest doctor in the 'verse doin' the hands on."

Simon could see that nothing he said would convince her otherwise and part of him was grateful, giddy at the complete trust and faith she had in him. Not knowing quite what to say he bent his head and brushed warm lips against hers. Kaylee gasped, her heart tripping with excitement. Simon was kissing her! And her not having to manouevre him nor nothing. He started to move his head back just as she slid her arms up to wrap around his neck and draw him back down to her.

"Oh no ya don't mister, been waitin' forever for ya to make your move."

He opened his mouth to protest but her lips were quicker, making a seal over his as her body wriggled as close as a body could get. Somewhere between the deepening of the kiss and Kaylee's lithesome body doing what she had been dreaming of doing since she had first set eyes on him, Simon lost the ability to think. Joyfully overwhelmed by her warmth, touch, taste, and something so beautiful and overpowering that he could only call it love. Just like the little mechanic herself, Kaylee never did anything half heartedly. When she worked on Serenity it was with every bit of her attention, when she found something she liked it became the sole focus of her 'verse, and now it was Simon's turn. In the corridor just inside his parent's house might not have been the best place to discover that he had the same reckless hormones coursing through his body as any other young adult male but right at that moment he really didn't care.

* * * * *

Mistress Barbette stared, momentarily speechless. The man lying like a corpse in the guest bed was not what she was expecting. For some reason she thought she would recognise him especially with Annalise telling her that he would speak only to her. That it was a matter of the utmost urgency. Well. Not so urgent that he could keep awake apparently. Seeing the frown start to form on the House Mistress's face, Annalise was quick to speak up.

"He was exhausted."

"So I see."

The dry response did not reassure the Companion. "The Hospitaller said we would need to redress some of his injuries."

A nod was the only response. Getting nervous now Annalise was not sure what to do or say then decided actions spoke louder than words. Quietly she moved around the room to where the medical supplies had been placed on a small table next to the bed. With care she rolled back the covers, the young man not stirring. Going to the small sink Annalise ran the water until it was luke warm and filled a small bowl then arranged the supplies beside it on a tray her eyes kept flicking down to watch for any signs of Daniel stirring. The House Mistress watched silently. Not sure what she was waiting for but hoping something would start to make sense.

As the bandages were carefully unwrapped the House Mistress's frown deepened, this time with concern. The Companions had been correct. Moving forward she helped remove the last of the clothing so that Annalise could bathe the wounds that still wept while she helped to rewrap those already cleaned. Her throat was tight with emotion, the kind of injuries endured by Hunt were a story of long term abuse that must have begun in childhood and been continued into manhood. Bones broken, badly left to set awkwardly without medical intervention, only to be broken again. No doubt there were internal injuries as well and she shuddered to think of the sheer agony he must have been in. No more than in his early twenties to Barbette and the women he was little more than a boy, a young man at most, certainly not the seasoned adult who could in any way prevent the situation he found himself in. The bruising was blue, black and yellow overlaying skin stretched too thinly over an emaciated body. The bruises on top of older injuries, skin broken and rehealed in scars so ugly that it spoke of past infections that had obviously gone untreated. Anger rose within her, thinly held in check.

"Who did this?"

Biting back tears Annalise shook her head, her gentle hands not pausing as she continued redressing the broken man. "*Women bu zhidao*."

Once completed they put the soft cotton pajamas back on him, Daniel stirring slightly in their arms but not waking. He mumbled something incoherent but Mistress Barbette could not make out what he said. It was clear that even in his sleep the poor man suffered. Annalise cleaned and dried the bowl, put the supplies back, then took up the soiled bandages and rose to leave. In silence they made their exit closing the door softly behind them. Mistress Barbette gave the Companion a stern look, but the censure was not aimed at her but at those who had done this. "I need you to tell me every single thing that happened when he arrived, *dong ma*? From the exact words spoken to his body language."

A puzzled look flitted over the matronly Companion's face. "I will do my best."

"Nothing short of total recall will do, Annalise."

"*Wo bu dong*."

"Neither do I - yet - but I will."

"Do you recognise him, Mother?"

"*Bu qu*, but if something impelled him so strongly to come to this House I deem it must be a matter of grave importance."

Annalise nodded, a worried look upon her kindly face. "What do you think it means?"

The House Mother glanced at the closed door then indicated for them to join the others. "*Mafan*."

"Are we in danger?"

Mistress Barbette did not know but this was her House and everything in it was her responsibility. And that included, for the time being, the mysterious young man clinging to the fragile bonds of life. "It is too early to say. Perhaps he has come to us for help, sanctuary."

"Or perhaps," said Annalise hesitantly "to warn us."

When the House Mistress made no reply Annalise suspected she feared the same thing.

* * * * *

A bright and beautiful day seemed praeternaturally cold and remote to Inara Serra, such was her sense of shock. Outside the grounds of the Abbey she stood momentarily irresolute. The Abbot had been unfailingly polite and soliticitous but refused to allow her to see her brother. All the many wiles and ways of a Companion were useless to her here and if she was honest that was a bit of a relief. Her true face was the only one they saw or craved. But Inara was not used to failing in her objective and it stung to realise that the rules of the Abbey would bend for no one. Slowly she made her way back to the more populated part of Sihnon and for a time took little notice of where her feet led her. As she ruminated over the Abbot's words she remembered her brother saying that if she were to return for Winter Fair then he was sure the Abbot would allow them some time to see each other. She should have listened. Realised that Sendhil's commitment was no longer to her first but to his faith. A faith she respected even if it was not the one she herself embraced.

The bustle of the market place brought her back to her senses. Inara blinked. Had she walked so far? Then the hum of activity began to infiltrate her mental fog and like coming out of a trance she could feel her senses come back to her, the vibrant hum of life causing her own blood to stir with more interest in her surroundings. So. Winter Fair then. But what to do in the months before then? Should she return to House Madrassa? Inara paused, she still had a task to complete for the House Mistress as well as one of a more personal nature that she had been putting off. Stiffening her resolve, Inara knew she needed to put a call in to Serenity. If she could speak to Malcolm Reynolds he deserved to know that she truly regretted her words and actions before leaving his ship. Her accusations embarrassed and shamed her now. First she would finish her task then she could return to the Guild House and report to the House Mistress. On retiring to her room she could then use the secure cortex link to contact the ship though perhaps her apology should be made face to face. It would be the better option and would at least convince the Captain of her sincerity even though it would be humiliating to see that knowing smirk on his face when she did so. Then again, maybe she was being unfair to Mal. The man was contrary enough that he might, just might, accept what she had to say without making a song and dance of it. *Dang ran*. And the 'verse would be turned to stone before that happened.

With a little grimace Inara decided not to hang her hope on a magnanimous Captain and paid more attention to the offerings on the market stalls, unaware that someone was marking her passage and being careful to go unnoticed.

* * * * *

Simon stared at Dr Foss. His call had brought them all hurrying to the medical building thinking there had been a downturn in the Captain's condition. His father was still wiping the remains of his dinner from his jacket where some had spilled as he hastened to rise to his feet from the table. A sea of worried faces greeted the doctor as he met them in a small ante room before entering the ward proper. He looked startled to see them all there, Serenity's crew unable to hide their anxiety even as Gabriel and Regan Tam rushed to find out what was wrong.

Dr Foss raised his hands, his face reddening slightly. "*Fang xin, wode duibuqi*. I didn't mean to alarm anyone."

Gabriel Tam's eyes narrowed. "*Shenme shi*?"

Raymond Foss took a steadying breath, he really should have thought this through before recalling Gabriel and Simon so late in the evening. At least given them enough of an explanation that the entourage could have been left at the house. But glancing at Serenity's crew he knew he would never have been able to convince them to stay away. With a sigh he knew he would have to explain and do it now, whether or not he was ready for full disclosure it seemed it was time. "*Qing*, let me explain." He paused, uncomfortable in a way he had not been since his first internship. "You must understand that I am employed directly by the government."

Alarm bells rang in Simon's head. He shot a glance at his father and was somewhat gratififed to see a flush on anger on his face. Jayne wasn't so polite about it, a hand shooting out and grabbing the doctor's coat as he stepped right into the man's personal space, his face inches from Dr Foss's. "What're ya sayin'? Ya called the gorram Alliance?"

"Jayne!" Simon's attempt to calm things down had no effect.

Jayne began to shake the man, knowing that if he didn't he would likely shoot him dead before any of them got an answer. It startled Simon that his father and mother were not trying to pull the mercenary off.

"I..I.. haven't called anyone."

The big man growled angrily into the trembling man's face. "Oh yeah? An' how'd we know that?"

Shepherd Book intervened gently, his deep calm voice penetrating Jayne Cobb's angry haze enough to get him to let go of the man. Seeing his opportunity, Gabriel Tam stepped into the breach, his look telling Dr Foss that he would accept nothing but the whole truth. "Raymond, I trusted you. Was I wrong?"

"No, no, that was what I was trying to explain."

"Then best spit it out." Said Zoe, her face a mask of granite. A hand resting on her mare's leg.

The doctor felt a little faint but did not dare sit down. Any delay in the explanation would likely not go well for him. Trying not to tremble too much he began his story, his audience silent and deathly still as they listened. By the time he was done there was a long silence. It was finally broken by Simon.

"Why are you telling us this now?" He asked quietly.

"Because I don't want anything bad to happen. I was told to delay the operation as much as possible, three days at least."

Kaylee looked confused. "*Wo bu dong*. If Alliance're comin' why they need so long?"

Zoe shook her head, her eyes never leaving Foss's. "Because it isn't the Alliance, is it?"

Dr Foss swallowed slowly. "*Bu qu*. How did you know?"

"Two by two, hands of blue."

Everyone had forgotten River was there. Her small voice echoed like a death knell. Kaylee was wringing her hands, eyes wide and fearful. "But you told us, *dui*? So that means we got time, Cap'n's got time."

"Well?" Said Gabriel coldly. "Do they have time, Raymond?"

He was shaking but trying to hold it together. "*Qu* but we have to hurry. We need to take the Captain back into surgery and complete this."

"Then what?" Asked Wash. "I mean, you told us it would take several operations."

"Yes, yes, and it will but if we can do the most critical and delicate part of the surgery today you can take the Captain back with you and Simon can finish the last stages on your ship."

Simon exhanged a look with his father before speaking. "Do we have time for that, Dr Foss?"

"I think so."

Jayne took a step forward but this time it was Zoe who stopped him. Intimidating the specialist surgeon the Captain needed to put him back together was not the wisest move even if she felt the same inclination. Gabriel Tam took a breath then glanced at the throng. "We had better prep the Captain for surgery. There's no need for the rest of you to stay here though I imagine you will want to have someone stay until the operation is over."

They nodded, Shepherd Book about to volunteer until he caught Zoe's eye. Taking a step back he let her take his place. "I'll be stayin'."

The doctors nodded. Zoe turned to Wash.

"Want you back on Serenity, *zhangfu*. Kaylee, can you see to the engine, make sure she's ready if we have to leave in a hurry?" Kaylee nodded, her throat too closed up with emotion to speak. River sidled up alongside her and clasped Kaylee's hands, the girls looked at each other. Both of them upset. River's eyes were wide as saucers. "This gonna work, River?"

The girl took a moment before replying, her eyes shifting to focus on Dr Foss though he was not looking their way but deep in quiet conversation with her father and brother. "*Qu* but we have to hurry, be ready."

"We will." Shepherd Book assured.

As the rest of the crew were about to leave Zoe asked a question that had been bothering her since they got to the Tams. "What about the cameras?"

Gabriel Tam frowned. "What about them?"

She was not looking at him. "Dr Foss?"

The doctor swallowed heavily and suddenly all eyes were back on him. It was like being in the cross hairs of a sniper's rifle and he didn't like it. But if he was being fair he had brought the distrust on himself. "The Alliance fitted them when they financed the project."

Regan gasped at the word 'project' and put a hand over her mouth. Gabriel Tam gave his colleague a cold look, sharing her concern. "Project?"

Now Dr Foss was really nervous. "We should, we should get started."

Gabriel ignored the entreaty and closed the distance between them. Wash and Kaylee had already left for the ship but the others could not have moved if they wanted to. The necessity to find out just how badly they were compromised took precedent over everything else. "What project, Raymond?"

His eyes darted everywhere as if looking for a means of escape but then they settled. Everyone turned to see what he was staring at and found themselves looking at River. Her eyes were wide and distant, a luminosity to them that was morbid and creepifying. "Two by two, hands of blue." She muttered softly.

Simon felt as if his whole world was about to be taken from him. "*Wode ma*, you sold us out!"

"No, no, I didn't! You have to understand, the Alliance was watching. Waiting. I didn't know what they were after or who. Thought it was just their endless paranoia."

Gabriel did not look convinced. "And now?"

Dr Foss sucked in his last good breath. "Now I think I was being incredibly dense."

"Naive." River corrected.

This was taking too long but Simon had to know. "What did they tell you?"

"To do as I was asked but to delay the operation, spin it out for at least three days. They didn't tell me why just that it was a matter of top security."

"And the cameras?" Put in Book.

"They were waiting, watching for something or..." He glanced at River. "Some one."

"Why you..." Simon flew at him, hands outstretched like claws. His father stopped him before he could tear into Dr Foss for his betrayal. His expression grim but set with determination.

"We don't have time for this, Simon."

Simon stared at his father as if he had just grown another head. "But he betrayed us!"

Dr Foss was shaking his head from side to side muttering 'no' but no one was listening now.

"Simon, focus." Simon stared into his father's eyes. "Your Captain doesn't have time for this."

That penetrated. The Captain. His patient. His responsibility. How odd it felt for him to feel the weight of that burden rather than the other way around. Numbly he nodded, seeing the sense in not wasting any more time especially as they did not know how long they had. "*Duibuqi*, let's get to work."

Zoe turned to Book. "Shepherd, I'd like you and Jayne to go back to the house. Keep a sharp eye out in case we get any unexpected visitors, *dong ma*?" They nodded and were just about to leave when River spoke. "I can help."

Zoe didn't ask how just nodded, glad that the girl would not be in the hospital while the doctors worked on the Captain. It would be one less thing for her to worry about.

Regan led the Shepherd, Jayne and her daughter back to the house. Her face was white and strained and even though they had left their meal none of them were hungry. When they got back to the house the Shepherd asked Regan questions about the rooms and how many external doors they had. Then he fell into a quiet discussion with Jayne about checking the premises out, making sure they closed all the windows and doors and locked them so no one could sneak inside. Regan reached for her daughter's hand. "Come on River, you can help me clear the table." She shook her head and danced out of reach, Book and Jayne stopping their conversation to see what was going on. "No, I have something to do."

"*Shenme*?" Asked Book.

"They want three days."


"Hands of Blue."

"River, what do you have to do?"

"The cameras are on a direct feed but linked to one output."

Regan looked worried. "If you cut the connection they'll know."

"Not what I was going to do, *fuqin*." River blinded them with a smile. "I can loop the footage. They want three days, we'll make it look like three, or better still four."

The mercencary frowned. "Ya may be a genius but they ain't, won't they be suspicious?"

She shook her head, now trembling with excitement. "They see what they want to see. Think we are unsuspecting."

"On'y we ain't."

Her smile actually brightened. "Not now but we were."


Book nodded slowly. "I think I see where you are going with this. The earlier footage was taken before Dr Foss dropped his bombshell."

Regan looked uncertain. "Won't they notice they are seeing the same thing over and over again?"

"Won't be that simple."

The Shepherd sighed. Why did he ever think it would be? River looked at him with eyes that danced as if she knew a secret. Knowing River she probably did.

"I can be creative. By the time it's ready you won't even see the join."

* * * * *

Of all the dumb, stupid plans this had to be the worst. Badger couldn't stop pacing back and forth. While he should have expected something like this it was still a shock that his mother was a whore. Okay, a Companion and pretty high up in their little chain of command but still. A whore by any other name. He stopped pacing, realisation dawning. That was why he didn't know who his father was. She must have fallen pregnant from one of her liaisons or whatever fancy word they gave it now. Client. Yeah, that was it. Badger sat on the bed and thought it through. That being the case maybe his father wasn't some down and out piece of scum his mother had picked up. Maybe he was someone big and fancy, powerful even. He began to grin, imagining he came from better stock than he had imagined. Wouldn't that be a turn up for the books? A spit in the eye for the likes of Malcolm Reynolds.

Then reality hit him. What good was it who his father was? He didn't know him and given the busy life Companions seemed to lead there was even a chance his mother didn't know who he was either. That thought stopped him in his tracks. It felt wrong. How could she not know? And if she did, why keep it from him? Was his father here, at this fancy whore house? Was that why she had brought him here? But something about that felt wrong. No. This place was a Companion House, there wouldn't be any men here. Well, no one but him and he was only here to hide out for a while. A thought began cycling through his mind. If his mother was the head of this House then it stood to reason she had an office, a study or somesuch. Definitely a woman of her position had secrets, more than most he was thinking. That meant she would have a safe, some secure place to hide documents and so on. His mood lightened, the inklings of a plan beginning to form in the back of his mind. Oh yeah. Maybe coming here hadn't been a mistake after all. All he had to do was bide his time. Learn what he could about the layout of the place, the numbers of people living here and their routines. How hard could it be?

For years his mother had treated him with scorn, her occasional contact being more like thinly disguised threats than any attempt to check if he was alright. He knew he probably wasn't being fair but seeing the casual oppulence of House Madrassa and the respect the women showed his mother it irked him that she was living high on the fat of the land while he had to use what smarts he had to outwit the low lifes and earn a coin or two. All the cunning and skill he had developed paled into insignificance compared to what his mother had achieved. And it burned. Oh yeah, the sting was like to brand him with the unfairness of it for life. Yet now he had an opportunity. A chance to turn things around you might say. Couldn't blame a fella for looking out for his own self things being what they were, and if he chanced to find out more about his past - well - whose fault was that? Not like you could hang a man for curiosity.

Badger got comfortable, laying back on the bed still dressed though at least he had enjoyed a nice hot bath and was for once scrubbed so cleaned he hardly recognised himself. A big wide smile spread across his face as he linked his hands behind his head and stared up at the ornately patterned ceiling. Oh yeah. Mama dear might long regret bringing him into her fancy world but there was no reason why he shouldn't enjoy the trappings while he was here.

* * * * *

CHINSESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*weishenme* = why? *qu* = yes (lit. go) *women bu zhidao* = we don't know *dong ma* = understand? *wo bu dong* = I don't understand *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *mafan* = trouble *dang ran* = of course *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *wode duibuqi* = I'm sorry *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *qing* = please *dui* = correct *zhangfu* = husband *duibuqi* = sorry *shenme* = what? *shei* = who *wode ma* = mother of God *fuqin* = mother


Thursday, August 14, 2008 7:24 AM


Good stuff. Foss is to be understood, even pitied a little, for his unwillingness to look below the surface, but at least he has now. Although I fear he may not survive the tale once Serenity leaves. The Hands of Blue are notorious for not leaving witnesses.

Thursday, August 14, 2008 2:29 PM


I am almost sad to think what might happen to Foss after Serenity goes. Anyway, 'Tis very good and I am enjoyig every minute.

Thursday, August 14, 2008 4:30 PM


Excellent work, as always! :D

Thursday, August 14, 2008 5:27 PM


Your plot keeps getting deeper and deeper. Am looking forward to their escape. Poor Inara - so much to make up for, and so easily misled.


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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.