Simon Says (Part 3/4)
Friday, December 30, 2011

Simon calls on Inara for help.


Simon put his elbows on the counter and leaned in closer to the Cortex screen, staring intently at the blackness of it. His heart surprised him by skipping a beat when he heard the sound of the well-known voice coming through, "Ni hao?"

"Inara?" he whispered.

There was a short pause. "Simon?" she asked. "Is that you?"

"Yes, yes it's me. It's good to hear your voice, Inara."

"Yours too." She was smiling; he could hear it. "But why are you on audio only?"

"So he can't see you."


Simon glanced over his shoulder, looking at Badger hovering in the doorway, just out of earshot. Turning back towards the com he said, "I'm at Badger's."

He imagined how her eyes grew wide. "Badger?"

"Yes. He snatched me from the street. I'm… helping him out with something. Look, he doesn't know that I'm talking to you. I told him I was getting in touch with an old friend from Med-Acad and that I needed to talk to him alone."

"And he let you?"

"Yes." Simon couldn't quite hide the surprise from his voice. "It's strange. And a little worrisome. Something's not right." He looked over his shoulder again. "He's watching me though. Hence the black screen."

"Why?" She sounded a little frantic now. "Simon, what is this? Why are you calling me?"

"I need your help."

"Of course." There was another short moment of silence and then her voice returned, laden with worry, "Simon, does he know who you are?"

"I don't think so. He hasn't said or done anything that suggests that."

"What can I do to help? You want me to wave the captain? Tell him where you are."

"No, it's probably best if you don't. Besides, I think Mal already knows where I am. There aren't that many options."

"Then tell me what you need."

He told her. And again she was quiet for some time when he'd finished talking. "Yes, Indigo Hanson is a client of mine," she hesitantly said when she finally spoke again. "But what you're asking me to do, Simon… Spying on a client... I would have to break several Guild rules, not to mention what a serious exploiting of trust it would be. I could get in real trouble for this."

"I know," he simply replied. "It's your call. I won't think ill of you if you choose not to."

He heard her sigh. "But, Simon, how can I not? I owe you." Another sigh. "I'll see what I can do."

"I truly appreciate it. Thank you."

"Can I contact you here on this address? When it's done."

"No. I've rerouted the connection through several servers across most of the system. To keep Badger from finding you."

"You can do that?" She sounded a little amazed.

"Uh, well, I've picked up a useful skill or two in my time."

"So I gather. You'll contact me then?"

"Yes. How much time do you need?"

"A couple of days. If I'm lucky."

"Alright." He nodded even though she couldn't see him. "I'll call you up. And thanks again."


Getting a client to want to contract with you was one of the basics covered in the Academy. It was a useful, if not a necessary skill for a Companion to have should there ever come a rainy day. Inara was well schooled in the game and it only took an 'accidental' wave to Mr Hanson, followed by an apologetic and casual conversation before he extended an invitation for her to visit him the following night.

Her conscience was still bothering her a little when she left for his estate. He'd sent a cab to pick her up at the Training House, and Avalon wasn't a particular big moon and so the journey took less than twenty minutes. But twenty minutes were still more than enough time to think and to dwell in the memories of her friends, her family, back on Serenity that the sudden wave from Simon had sparked to life. It had only been three months since she'd left them and yet sometimes it felt like a lifetime.

She'd kept in touch with them. Sort of. She received letters from Kaylee and she loved getting those, even though they left her feeling a little empty and sad every time she'd finished reading or re-reading one. She thought of Kaylee now, during the flight to Hanson's place, of how much the young woman adored Simon and how devastated she would be if anything were to happen to him.

And she knew, again, that she had to do this.

When they landed at the estate and her pilot opened the door for her and she caught a glimpse of his stoic face, she thought of Zoë, the way you could sometimes find her in the kitchen or at the bridge at night, ever so true and vigilant. As she walked through the park towards the main house she heard someone laugh somewhere behind a bush, and she thought of Wash and his silly stories. When the guards at the door not-so-discreetly checked out her behind as she walked past them and stepped inside, she thought of Jayne, surprised to discover that she even missed him.

And when she made love to Hanson a couple of hours later, she thought of Mal.

Hanson was an elderly man and quite overweight, and luckily for her didn't have the stamina to last a whole night through. He fell asleep almost instantly after climaxing for the first and only time and she waited until the house seemed quiet before she silently slipped out of bed and went in search for… Well, she wasn't really sure what exactly. Proof that he was up to no good; was poisoning people? Where would you even find that kind of proof?

Probably not out in the open.

This was silly.

She went looking nevertheless.

The hallways were dark and quiet, the whole household seemingly asleep at this hour, and she silently walked from room to room, barefoot to make as little noise as possible. She went past several living rooms, lucrative and delicate, like countless other living rooms she'd seen. She didn't linger; it didn't impress her. Funny how a battered old mid-bulk transport ship seemed more alluring than gold and wealth these days.

She finally found a room more promising: a study. It was quite simple; shelves along the walls packed with expensive looking books that no one probably opened anymore, and a desk with a dark Cortex screen.

She threw one last look over her shoulder, making sure she was alone, and then sat down and tried switching the screen on.

It was password protected.

Of course it was.

She sighed, but just then sensed a movement behind her and she jumped up and spun around. A young man was standing in the doorway, staring at her, and judging by the look on his face he was as surprised as she was. She quickly regained control over herself, though.

It was a man. She could handle this.

"I'm so sorry," she smiled, seductively but discreetly, using her 'feminine wiles' as Mal would have put it. She noticed the mop in his hand. "Am I disturbing you?"

"I… I'm gonna clean this room." He stuttered a little, seemingly unable to take his eyes off her. "I do it at night. When he's not using it. Are you the Companion?"

"I am." She stood, still smiling. "Please, let me get out of your way so you can do your job. I was only trying to get on the Cortex. I needed to send an urgent wave, but…"

"It's password protected," he finished her sentence for her. "I know."

He stepped inside and went up to the desk, but gave her a wide berth as if he were afraid to invade her personal space. "Here," he said. "Let me." He tapped a few keys and the screen came to life. He glanced at her over his shoulder, looking a little embarrassed. "I happen to know the password." He straightened, his face now tinged with fear. "You won't tell on me, will you, miss?"

"Of course not."

"I'll… I'll just clean out here, then, in the meantime." He turned to leave.

"What's your name, sweetheart?" she asked.

He glanced back. "Otto."

"Thank you, Otto." She sounded sincere and in a way she was.

He nodded, smiled a little and left, and she turned back towards the screen, frowning just a little as she did so. That had been almost too easy…

Inara was a woman of many a skill and it didn't take her long to find Hanson's personal files. But she felt that stab of guilt again as she started going through his letters and business transactions. For all she knew this man was innocent, yes he most likely was, and she had no business poking her nose in this. But again the thought of Simon, and Kaylee, and Serenity… and Mal, kept her going and a little more than an hour into her search she finally knew what she was looking for.

Because she found it.

It wasn't evidence. Not in the strictest sense of the word. It was a receipt for a shipment of protein bars headed off-world and a transcription of a wave sent to a business associate mentioning 'the stealing, delusional turncoat of a petty criminal' who needed to be 'taught a lesson'.

It wasn't evidence.

But it was enough for her friendly feelings towards Hanson to cool considerably, and hopefully it would also be enough to get Simon out of his predicament. So she downloaded it to her memory stick and then quietly walked back to the bedroom.

Otto was nowhere to be seen.


Badger seemed – surprisingly enough – quite satisfied with the findings.

"They don't prove anything," Simon warned him as he presented him with the documents Inara had sent. "But my hypothesis is that Mr Hanson poisoned his own goods to get back at you."

Badger seemed confused. "How's tha'? I's not gonna eat it."

"No, but the people you're selling it to will, and since this business is going down under the radar nothing will lead back to Hanson. You will be the one getting the blame when people start dying."

Badger's face contracted in a pensive frown. "And why? Why's he out to get me? Wha'd I do?"

Simon pointed to the copy of Hanson's transcribed wave shown on the pad he was holding. "He thinks you're stealing from him. That you earn a lot more money on this… endeavor than you're letting on."

The shock on the little man's face didn't look real at all. "Tha's outrageous!"

"Is it really?" Simon raised a brow in a scrutinizing manner.

Badger shrugged and grunted. "The nerve…" But then he popped his head up and grinned broadly. "Well done, Doctor. You're as good as your word, I'm tellin' you. And that friend o' yours on Avalon, too. You tell him my thanks, will you? I'll have this," he pointed to the pad, "dealt with."

"It doesn't prove anything," Simon warned him again, but Badger wasn't listening. He was already headed for the door, barking orders to his men.

"Can I…," Simon started asking before the door slammed shut. He slumped back in his chair with a sigh. "…go now?" he finished the sentence to no one in particular.

Badger had left a couple of his guards with him. They were both staring at him and he felt a little intimidated when he noticed this, and turned his attention to the pad, pretending to read it.

"So," one of the men said, "Starkey was just unlucky?"

Simon glanced up at him. "Starkey?"

"The dead guy. The one you cut open."

"Well, yes." Simon shifted nervously in the chair. "He ate the poisoned bars. It wasn't meant for him. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"Shame," the man muttered. "Makes sense though. Can't see why anybody would want Starkey dead."

Simon could, but he kept his thoughts to himself.

He looked at the pad again, trying to push the discomforting thoughts to the back of his mind. He had a bad feeling about this. He'd solved the case, or at least Badger seemed to think so, but he couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right. It seemed like all the answers had come to him a little too easy.

"He was a fine enough fella," the man continued. Simon didn't even bother looking up this time. He felt more relaxed now; he was pretty sure these men weren't going to hurt him, at least not now, and just as with Jayne whenever he bored him with his tall tales, he only half listened.

"Made a fierce pecan and peanut pie," he heard the man say and the whole absurdity about it made him raise his eyebrows a little.

"That so?" he muttered, still not looking up.

"Yup. Made it for us whenever he could get his hands on the ingredients. Never had any of it himself though. Somethin' about peanuts making his head blow up or some such."

This, on the other hand, caught Simon's interest and his eyes narrowed in a quizzical frown as his had snapped up. "He was allergic to peanuts?"


Inara was a little surprised and a lot worried when Indigo Hanson invited her back to his estate the next day, saying he wanted another night with her. She thought about declining – considering what she knew about him now she didn't really want to contract with him anymore – but she couldn't tell him that without revealing what she'd done, and in the end her curiosity led her to accept the invitation.

She had been a little afraid that she'd been found out. that he'd brought her there to confront her with her little espionage adventure, but he was his lovely, welcoming self when he met her at the door and escorted her through the house. She'd just begun to relax in his presence when they walked past the room she'd been in the night before and she threw a glance inside it that made her forget all about keeping up appearances and stop dead in her tracks.

The study wasn't a study anymore. The desk and the Cortex screen were both gone. Only the bookshelves remained, and everything looked clean and untouched.

"What is it?" he asked, and she pulled herself together enough to smile at him and shake her head.

"My apologies," she said. "I just… Have you been redecorating?" She gestured to the room, just managing to sound casual.

"In here?" He chuckled. "Oh no, this room has been like this for years. It's my reading library and nobody ever uses it, I'm afraid to say."

In Inara's head the pieces began to fall into place, and it wasn't a pleasant sensation. There was another question forming that she didn't really want to ask, because she already knew the answer and most of all because Simon was out of her reach and beyond her help regardless of what it would be.

She asked it anyway.

"You don't have a cleaner named Otto, do you?"




Sunday, January 1, 2012 4:16 AM


Oooh, the plot thickens. Are Simon AND Inara being set up? If so, why? Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Friday, November 23, 2012 11:54 AM


Well...I wonder if someone put a bee in Badger's ear about using Simon to figure out why Starkey keeled over, while a partner made sure that any inquiries made via Hanson were put on a false track. Very complex...very dangerous...loving it!


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