Keeping On: Part 9 - New Beginnings
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A year after the Miranda broadcast, Mal and Zoe struggle to keep their family together and keep flying as situations begin to build on Serenity. New Beginnings: The crew continues to adjust and Simon finally works up the nerve to take a big step forward.


Keeping On: Part 9 - New Beginnings

Disclaimer: Firefly, Serenity, and all related characters are copyright 2002-2005 Mutant Enemy, Inc., Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Fox. This is a work of fanfiction. No copyright infringement is intended.


A Week Later

Things on Serenity seemed to be going well enough. Lilah was taking to her job very well, Mal and Zoe both thought. Their only concern was that Lilah rarely left bridge. Whereas Wash had often put the controls to autopilot, Lilah rarely did so, except at night and at meal times. When she wasn’t on the bridge, she was in her room with the door slid shut. She showed up for meals and did her time on the chore and cooking rotation, but mostly kept to herself. There were a few instances where she would open up, but mostly the only people she talked to were Simon and River.

Simon had insisted to Mal and Zoe that Lilah was fine and was mostly likely just taking time to adjust to her new situation.

“Of course, it’s also possible that she thinks we’re all insane and is plotting her escape.” He added wryly.

“Go clean your infirmary.” Mal had said.

Zoe had been surprised when she’d gone up to the bridge one night to let Lilah know that dinner was ready and saw and heard Lilah talking to one of Wash’s old dinos before reaching into the bag she always seemed to bring with her onto the bridge and pulling out a new dino and placing it among the others. It had taken Zoe a moment to get a hold on herself and she’d managed to keep her voice even when she finally spoke.

“Having fun?”

Lilah caught Zoe starting at her and smiled, embarrassed.

“I- I saw it in a store back at the Sky Bazaar and I couldn’t stop myself. He looked so lonely.”

“Did you name it?” Zoe asked.

“Did I name it?”

“Wash always named them.” Zoe said quietly.

“Oh, yeah. His name is Penny.” Lilah said, with a smile, holding the ridiculous, green plastic dinosaur up. “His mother told him it would build character.”

Zoe snorted and told Lilah that dinner was about to start.

“Might be best to hurry it up before Jayne eats it all.”

“That man is a bottomless pit.” Lilah agreed, setting “Penny” back down with his new friends and following Zoe down to the mess. “By the way, what is it with him and his guns?”

“It’s one of the great mysteries of the ‘Verse.”


Inara pulled River aside after dinner that night and told her that she could visit with her any time that she wanted. River assured her that she would when she was ready and Inara hugged the girl fondly.

“Do you know where Simon disappeared to while we were shopping?” River asked.

Inara smiled widely and nodded.

“I’m not supposed to tell. It’s a secret.” She said, recalling the young doctor’s words to her before the ship had even docked.

“Is it a nice secret?” River pushed.

“Oh yes, it’s a very nice secret.” Inara said, still smiling. “It’s a very nice secret indeed.” It took River another day or so before she found out what Simon’s secret was.


Mal was sitting up on the bridge in a rare moment of their new pilot’s absence. He was thinking on various things both past and recent. More than anything, he was having a rare moment to himself; of relaxation…just a man and the ship that he loved.

It was interrupted by a voice asking,

“May I join you, Captain?”

Mal turned and Simon stood at the entrance to the bridge, looking very nervous.

“Got somethin’ on your mind, Doc?” Mal asked. Simon rarely sought Mal out unless he had a good reason.

“I was hoping to speak with you, yes.” Simon said.

“Come on in and have a seat.” Mal turned back to the space before him, taking in the vastness of it.

To his surprise, he heard Simon close and lock the door to the bridge before sitting in the co-pilot’s seat.

“I wanted this to stay private, though I imagine that you’ll tell Zoe.” Simon said.

“Speak your peace then, Doc.” Mal said, genuinely curious about what Simon had to say.

“I’ve never met Kaylee’s father and I don’t know what the chances are that I’ll meet him any time soon. I suppose I could wave him, but it would be out of the blue and not of good decorum. And, as you are the Captain that I more or less serve under, and because you act as an older brother to Kaylee, the proper thing to do is to ask you, as a courtesy.”

Mal suddenly knew where this was going and part of him thought that it was about gorram time. The other part was more than uneasy. As Simon had said, Kaylee was like Mal’s little sister, and he aimed to do right by her.

“I love Kaylee, Mal. And I have every intention of asking her to be my wife. Even though the usual Core niceties aren’t observed out here in the Black and I plan on asking her no matter what you say, I would like your blessing to do so.

"I can’t say that I have much to offer her, though I have bought a ring and I do have money put away for the both of us to start out with. If she says yes than I will do my best to keep her happy.” Simon finished.

“Suppose you could propose without putting your foot in your mouth and making her cry?” Mal asked, wryly.

“Surprisingly, I'm feeling rather hopeful that I can.” Simon answered.

Mal sighed.

“I suppose I could give my blessing. Ya ain’t useless and for some gorram reason Kaylee kinda likes you. And you’re gonna ask her whether I give my blessing or not?”

“I am.”

“Why ask, even?” Mal asked.

“How angry would you have been had I not?” Simon countered, knowingly.

“Pretty damn angry.” Mal admitted.

“And Kaylee doesn’t like to see others angry or upset or sad.” Simon said.

“Guess that top 3 percent helps ya a bit, don’t it?”

“I rather like that designation. I have to have something to feed my ego every now and then, given my rather harsh fall from grace.” Simon smiled.

“Yeah, you’re a regular tragic hero. Alright then, I give my blessing, for what little it’s worth.” Mal said, grudgingly. “But so help me, if you make her unhappy, Simon-”

“The crew gets to shoot me and I get tossed out the airlock. I know.” Simon said, not cowed in the least. Mal respected that Simon could stand up to both him and Jayne, but sometimes it was a damn pain in the pi gu.

“Go on and ask her.”

Simon smiled and left, leaving the doors open.


“Well don’t you have a dapper air to you today,” Lilah commented to Simon as he walked by. She was heading to the bridge.

“I suppose that I do.” Simon smiled.

“Does it have anything to do with you cozying yourself off with the Captain on the bridge earlier?” Lilah asked.

“It does.” He blushed, and Lilah thought he looked kind of pathetically adorable when he did that. She could almost see what Kaylee saw in him. “I…I let Mal know my intentions.” He finally managed.

Lilah couldn’t resist teasing him; he made it so easy sometimes. She liked Simon; he had become a good friend to her.

“That’s so sweet, Simon. Where are you going to take Mal on your first date?”

Simon mouthed wordlessly for a moment. Finally he managed to sputter out

“Kaylee! My intentions towards Kaylee Not Mal!”

“You’re such an easy mark, Simon.” Lilah laughed. “I’m happy for you.” She added, sincerely.

“She hasn’t said ‘yes’ yet. I haven’t even asked her yet.” Simon said, though he smiled to let her know that he appreciated the sentiment.

“You’d better go and do that then, hadn’t you?”

“I’m planning on it.”

“Good luck.”

“Thank you, Lilah.”


Meanwhile, up on the bridge, Mal was filling Zoe in on his and Simon’s little chat.

“How you feelin’ about this, Zoe?” Mal asked.

“What do you mean, Sir?” Zoe countered, not meeting his eyes.

“You can’t hide it from me, Zoe. Mama Bear’s upset that her cub’s gonna be leavin’ the cave pretty soon.” Mal smiled kindly. “You and Wash looked out for her, and you’ve known this was coming for a while now.”

“I don’t want to see Kaylee get hurt, is all.” Zoe said. “Girl’s got a heart of gold and I can’t stand seein’ her unhappy.”

“Doc’ll take care of her.” Mal said. “He loves her and knows that he’s got a boatload of people who will make him miserable if he makes her unhappy.”

“So he really asked you if he could ask her to marry him?” Zoe asked.

“He surely did. Think the boy’ll do alright by our little Kaylee. How’s Mama Bear feel about one of her youngins’ up an’ marryin’?”

“I’ll get used to it and be happy for them both.” Zoe smiled.

“Course this means that Jayne and I will get to have all manner of fun screwing around with Simon at his bachelor party.” Mal smiled. “And I know that Kaylee’s father and brother will too.”

“Therein lay the silver lining.” Zoe agreed.


Jayne and River were sitting in the mess in comfortable silence. River was sketching something and Jayne was cleaning one of his guns. River perked up.

“Somethin’ up?” Jayne asked, not raising his head from his task.

“Simon is becoming a man.” River said with a wide smile.

Jayne snorted.

“In case ya hadn’t noticed, Crazy, yer brother done got sexed by Kaylee about a year ago. Hell, them two ain’t hardly stopped since they started.”

“Sex does not make a male a man.” River said, seriously. “Simon wants to start building a family.” She smiled happily. “He’s been taken in by the sun and wants to always be in her light.”

Jayne said nothing for a moment – the letter from his mother was fresh in his mind.

Gorrramit, he thought. Why the hell’s everyone so up and eager to get married? Ain’t like it’s nothin’ special.

For one brief and bitter moment, he wished dearly that Kaylee would say no, before instantly feeling ashamed of himself. He liked Kaylee…he should be happy for her.

“Jayne is upset with this news.” River said, puzzled.

“I ain’t upset with it.” Jayne insisted. “I’m happy for Kaylee. Hell, I’m even happy for your sissy priss of a brother.” Jayne said.

“But something is upsetting you and-” She was unceremoniously cut off by Jayne.

“Here’s an idea Crazy: why don’t you stay out of my head and go be creepy and readin’ somewhere else? Never wanted ya on this boat in the first place an’ ya ain’t been nothin’ but a pain in my ass since ya came on.” He bit out viciously, picking up his now-assembled and clean gun as well as his rag and polish and stormed out of the mess, leaving a very hurt and confused River in his wake.


Simon stopped briefly in the infirmary, pulling out his hidden drawer and the small velvet box inside that he placed there after their last trip to the Sky Bazaar. He was eternally grateful to Inara for taking charge of River’s shopping so that he could slip away for an hour or so to find a ring for Kaylee.

His first instinct was to go for something very fancy and ornate, before practicality hit him. Kaylee worked around machines and the engine and having something so fancy and impractical could get her hurt, should the ring be caught on something. And when he found a silver band that was thick enough to have a tiny ruby nearly completely inlaid but thin enough to keep from getting caught on anything, he knew that he had found the ring for her. He’d had her name inscribed on the inside part of the ring, paid, and had thanked the jeweler for his time.

He was nervous beyond belief. He, Dr. Simon Tam, Top-Three-Percent, could reattach a girl’s whole leg and perform surgery and heal the ailing and break his sister out of a high-security Alliance facility that was supposed to be untraceable and plan hospital drug heists, but he was nervous that the one woman he loved would reject him and say no.

He steeled himself, took a deep breath, and walked into the engine room.

He didn’t see her. He saw tools lying around, which wasn’t like her at all. They were only ever out when she was working. And he didn’t hear her cheerful humming and cajoling of Serenity.

And he frowned, before catching sight of her laying unconscious on the floor, a few wires from various panels around her. Half of her body was underneath the great spinning engine. Then he swore that his heart stopped.


He rushed to her, frantic, his worry dueling with his medical training. He felt for her pulse and tried to push away the panic that was threatening to rise up and overtake him.

“What happened?” Mal and Jayne were in the doorway, concerned and out of breath, having rushed across ship to get to the engine room.

“She’s unconscious. I can barely feel a pulse. I need to get her into the infirmary. Get the stretcher...we can’t risk that her back will wrench if she comes too. The wires…she must have been shocked.” Simon’s mind almost went completely blank.

His only thought was that he couldn’t lose the woman he loved. He just couldn’t.


Simon ran various diagnostic tests on Kaylee’s unconscious form and gave her the same paralysis-inducing medication that he’d given Jayne – albeit in a much smaller dose. He could see various burns on her hands and treated and wrapped them, as well as one on her side, where a wire had obviously shocked her.

“She gonna be okay?” Mal asked. Zoe and Inara were at his side, and even Lilah was standing outside the infirmary, a worried look on her face. Unbeknownst to any of them, Jayne was hovering on a small catwalk, peering into the infirmary, much like he had done when Kaylee had been shot.

“I’m hopeful. She’s still unconscious and she has some minor burns and one that worries me, and I still don’t know how her back will be. But she’s stabilized. I ran every scan I could think of and I didn’t see any evidence of internal damage. Of course that doesn’t mean that there can’t be complications.” He wiped at his brow, feeling very weary and tired.

“Any clue what happened?” Zoe asked.

“I’m guessing she was working on some wiring and was electrocuted, but the only one who can tell us for sure is Kaylee herself.” Simon answered.

Far away from them all, hidden in a dark and secluded corner of the cargo bay, River sat huddled, knees drawn up to her chin. She tentatively reached one hand out to touch the cool metal floor beneath her and asked in a shaky voice,

“Why would you do this to Kaylee?”


Simon kept a vigil that night, never leaving the infirmary.

Jayne surprised him by bringing him leftovers from supper, and asked how Kaylee was. Simon said that she was still stable and thanked him for the meal.

“Have you seen River?” Simon asked, almost as an afterthought. “I would have thought she would have stopped by.”

“Ain’t sure where she is, Doc.” Jayne said gruffly, and left quickly. He’d gone looking for her after his outburst and had returned to the mess to find her gone. He’d started searching the ship after Simon had gotten Kaylee stabilized and hadn’t been able to find her.

Simon ate sparingly…his appetite was next to nothing. Mostly he sat by Kaylee’s side, holding her hand and hoping that she would wake up and be okay.

“You’ve got to wake up, Kaylee.” He said. “I don’t know what I do without you. Life would be so empty without your smile and cheerfulness or the way you always seem to know the right thing to say. You’ve given me so much and I can only hope that somehow I can manage to repay you for all you’ve done to me…for all that you are to me.

“I want to marry you, Kaylee. I want to have you as my wife and spend my life with you. I want to show you how much I love you and I promise that if you say yes, I’ll make you happy as best I can.

“I was coming down to the engine room to ask you, and I had this whole thing planned out where for once, it would be perfect and I wouldn’t insult you or be awkward and everything would just flow freely and work out. And then I saw you laying there, hardly breathing and it was as if my heart had stopped and the sun had disappeared.

“I wish that I could give you the world and everything that you deserve, and maybe someday I’ll be able to. All I can really promise you right now is that I love you and want to be with you and only you.

“Please, Kaylee, come back to me.” He whispered.

He felt her hand squeeze his slightly and he looked up to see that her eyes were open and that she had a gentle smile on her face.

“You really mean all of that?” She asked weakly.

“How are you feeling?” Simon asked, so relieved that she was awake.

“Uh-uh. I asked you first Dr. Tam.” Kaylee said, with a small laugh that came out more as a painful cough.

“Of course I meant it. I meant every word, Kaylee.”

“Shiny. I feel like the fork that got stuck in the toaster.” She said, closing her eyes.

“You were electrocuted. What were you doing?” Simon asked.

“Some of the wires…they needed to be re-routed until the next time…I can replace the port-thrust booster.” She took a pained breath. “I’d taken off some of the coating on them and next thing I knew…was… in la-la land.”

“I’ll let Mal know. You should rest now, Bao bei. I’ll be back with water in a few moments. Just rest for a bit.” Simon said.

“M’kay. Think I’ll just…stay right…here. Simon?”


“I’ll marry you. I’ll marry you a lot.” She smiled sweetly at him and closed her eyes.

Simon left to get her some water, feeling happier and more grateful than he’d been in a long, long while.

He was going to marry Kaylee. She’d said yes. Simon and Kaylee were going to have a life together. They were going to be a family.

He didn’t bother to wipe away the tears in his eyes.


I hope you enjoy! Questions, comments, and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated!



Tuesday, March 17, 2009 1:01 PM


This was lovely. Glad that Kaylee is alright and I know Simon will take care of her. Hopefully Lilah will start thawing out towards the rest of them. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 6:15 PM


Nice touches of humor and family in this fic. Nice to see the relationship developing beween the men the way it did.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 10:56 PM


I love Lilah's reason for calling the new dinosaur 'Penny'! And that Kaylee is going to be all right. Can't help looking forward to Mal and Jayne tugging on Simon's strings, though, at the bachelor party.


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