STOLEN MOMENTS: 15. "Realisation"
Sunday, April 17, 2005

"The Captain, Zoe and Jayne go to meet their contact and fetch the cargo. Simon makes a confession and realises there really is only one thing he can do."



SUMMARY: "The Captain, Zoe and Jayne go to meet their contact and fetch the cargo. Simon makes a confession and realises there really is only one thing he can do." 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.


A "Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

It was a bright beautiful day on Levington. Any lingering morning clouds had been burnt off in the heat of a powerful sun. Jayne was sweating but not cursing. The weather a welcome warmth on tense muscle, limbering him up as he followed in the Captain's wake. Zoe as alert ahead of the mercenary as he was watching their backs. The walk was less than half an hour, all of them hearing the distinctive stamp and whinny of horses penned in. The Captain's step quickened a mite, his shoulders bracing slightly, the only indication to Jayne that the man was eager to see the quality of horseflesh they would be transporting. Zoe did not relax one iota even though her body moved with the fluid grace of an athlete. Lengthening their strides up the dusty incline they left store fronts and the rudimentary houses of a shanty town a couple of hundred yards behind them. At the top of the rise Mal paused, the other two coming up to stand either side of them. Looking down they saw a substantial coral milling with feisty animals grown weary and restless of their containment. Jayne frowned, wondering how the good gorram they would cope aboard a gorram ship.

Mal grinned at Zoe, all trace of his earlier dour demeanour gone. "See that Zoe? Ain't that the prettiest sight?"

Jayne grunted to imply the opposite. Zoe ignored him, her expression as deadpan as her flat but smooth response. "That it is, Sir."

When the mercenary grunted again the Captain turned to him. "You got somethin' to say, Jayne, words might make your meanin' clearer *dong ma*?"

"How we gonna get 'em to Serenity?"

The Captain's grin widened into a smile of pure pleasure. Inhaling the crisp clean air he could not keep the sound of happy out of his voice. "We pick us each a mount an' guide 'em in."

The look on the mercenary's face made Mal chuckle. He quickly explained as they made their way down the slope to the coral where men were now emerging from the adjacent barn.

"An' before you ask we don't smack 'em Jayne. These're horses not dumb cattle. We herd 'em nice an' easy back to Serenity. The ride'll calm 'em some, then we get Wash to come back with the mule to ferry back their feed."

"Huh," Jayne didn't look none too impressed. "Then why didn't we bring him with us?"

Mal paused and narrowed his eyes at the big man. "In case the deal went South. You remember what that's like, *jide*? Anythin' like that happens we'll be needin' a quick getaway. In which case, Wash - our very shiny pilot you might recall - would be needed to get us into the Black."

He saw a dim light come on in Jayne's eyes, brightening up some as the man thought about it and realised the Captain was right. Mal strode over to the people now forming a little welcoming committee. He gave a nod to George Hatcher, glad to see he had everything ready for them. Papers, horses and now a stack of feed being brought out of the barn. Mal took out his com and told Wash they were good to go and to bring the mule. His eyes met Hatcher's as he gave his pilot directions then put the com away. "Mighty fine stock."

Hatcher nodded. "The best." He handed Mal the paperwork. "Each one has a clean bill of health, all in prime condition." He paused and looked hard at the Captain. "Lord Warwick expects to receive them the same way."

It wasn't quite a threat but both men knew exactly what he meant. Jayne scowled wanting to get on with it. They had talked enough already. "He will."

* * * * *

Simon swallowed hard. How much did the Shepherd know? One look at the man's face told him nothing. What had he said? Oh yes, start at the beginning. "I just have to keep River safe."

Book nodded and waited. The doctor looked up and sighed very softly. It was almost a relief to get it out into the open.

"I know the Captain took us in when he didn't have to. And don't think I'm not grateful because I am, it's just everyone has an agenda. A motivation. Jayne reminded me of that and I am aware that the Captain is a dangerous man." He paused a moment. "I've seen more casual violence than I'm comfortable with and it's hard to trust that one day it won't be turned on myself and River."

"The Captain would never hurt your sister, Simon."

He thought about that and reluctantly agreed. It was something of a puzzle to him. "I know, at least I believe he wouldn't, but how can I ever really be sure?" His eyes searched the Preacher's. "You've seen him, know what he's capable of."

"Yes, I have and from what I've seen he does what needs to be done not necessarily what's easiest."

Simon blinked. "What do you mean?"

"The Captain is a practical man, Simon. At heart he is still a soldier and this crew is his unit. We are under his command therefore under his protection but the cost of that is obedience, loyalty. The code of a soldier."

He shook his head. "But we aren't soldiers..."

"*Bu qu* and the Captain knows that but it doesn't change the way he is. Only tempers the way he acts."

"The only temper I've noticed is his fist in my face. Can't say I'm impressed."

"And you didn't provoke any of that?" Book asked mildly.

The doctor flushed slightly. "I did push him but what could I do? He was going to let us be boarded and I couldn't allow that. I never would have let Kaylee die."

"You say that now but I was there Simon."

Simon dropped his head, feeling shame like a weary cloak weighing him down. "You're right," He looked up and met the Preacher's eyes. "But I didn't know any of you then."

"If the same circumstances occurred again would you do anything differently?"

And that was it. The rub. The point where push became shove. Simon's voice dropped to a quiet pained hush of truth. "No, I wouldn't."

The Shepherd let the silence fall between them for a moment or two, wanting it to sink in. "What did you do?"

"The Captain was talking about River." His voice sounded dull, distant, his eyes focussing not on Shepherd Book or the infirmary but some other scene. "Said she was a Reader and that River had told him he was one too." He paused, blinked then looked at the Shepherd as he came back from his brief reverie. "He said River had offered to teach him. I panicked."

Book frowned slightly. "What do you mean, teach him?"

"To be a Reader. Not that I'm saying River is one," He rushed on to clarify. "But that's what she said." "And so?" Prompted Book.

"I went to look for him, told him I needed to check the wound, change the dressing. While I did that I placed a tab on the back of his hand. It was very quick acting, directly absorbed through the pores of the skin. Before he realised what was happening the barriers were down and I asked him what he was doing with my sister."

The Shepherd tried to hide his shock, keeping his voice as even and normal as he could. Hardly able to believe Simon would do such a thing. "You drugged him?"

"A small measured dose but very strong. That was when I discovered he never meant to betray either of us." Simon paused to contain his rising emotion. "I've never felt so ashamed."

"But you still don't trust him?"

A hitched breath gave away the doctor's discomfort. "No." A longer pause this time. "I can't. Only River matters."

"What are you so afraid of, Simon? If you believe the Captain has no intention of betraying you or your sister why do you still find it so hard to trust him?"

"You don't understand, River and I grew up on a Core planet. The Tam Estate was loyal to the Alliance and we were raised to think of ourselves that way. When we were children we would play games, our Alliance troops fighting the barbaric Independents. Our money, culture, education all marshalled on the side of the good and the righteous."

"And let me guess, the Independents were the exact opposite?" Simon nodded. "Rough, uncultured, brutal. I'm sure you get the picture?" Book said nothing. "The Captain is a violent man, Book. I grasped that very quickly - in his look, his manner, the way he speaks to the crew and his actions. And there's a darkness, an emptiness about him that scares me. Let's just say he fitted every stereotype I had ever imagined for the enemy." Simon paused, the hard brief stir of anger in his eyes fading like some broken thing. "Imagine how I felt when my own people turned on me. First my parents refusing to help me search for River, my father actively disowning me if I persisted. Can you imagine that? Then the nightmare of trying to get her out of that facility - an ALLIANCE facility! *Wode ma*, the exciting programme River was promised was just bait and my family fell hook, line and sinker."

"Simon..." But Simon wasn't listening to the Preacher now. Unaware that tears were coursing silently down his face. Distress evident as he relived all the pain and horror of reality crashing in on him when he was too vulnerable and unprepared to have any defence.

"I had to lie and cheat and bribe my way to find her. Mix with people I wouldn't have passed the time of day with in the street."

"You did what you had to do." Book said quietly.

"Then, when I got her smuggled out I had to look for the most unlikely, most disreputable ship I could find to get her out of there."

"You took help from your enemy." The Shepherd stated, his voice sad but understanding as he noted the distaste and bitterness in Simon's voice.

For a long time they were silent. At last Simon stirred and mentally shook himself, wiped his face dry and straightened up. Book could almost see Simon Tam being folded and put away so that Dr Tam could emerge with the professional detachment that allowed him to survive. It was his suit of armour. Helped him to keep his distance from them all. "*Duibuqi*, the only person I can afford to trust is River."

"Does that also include Kaylee?" The Shepherd asked very softly.

Pain flickered in Simon's eyes before he could push it back. "I don't want it to. I... I... have feelings for Kaylee."

"You love her."

Simon blinked. Not denying it. He felt like he was jammed between a rock and a hard place.

"Simon, instead of trying to weigh everything up in terms of the past, look to the present. Trust your heart. Trust River." He paused, then said very gently. "Trust us."

He looked at Book for several long seconds before speaking again. "That's what River says."

"But it's not that easy is it?"

The doctor could not answer. Did not know how to deal with feelings that were choking him up inside and turning into bursts of anger looking for a convenient target. He was frustrated and ashamed the more so because deep down a part of him wanted to trust, to reach out in friendship, to aknowledge that what he thought of as truth had been no more than a bed of lies. He wanted to apologise to the Captain and be at ease with him. To embrace the love Kaylee held out to him so unconditionally and return it in full measure. He already trusted Inara but there were times when her attachment to the Captain made him doubt even her motivations. The Shepherd both confused and comforted him. Jayne actually reassured him. The mercenary as uncomplicated as anything got out in the Black. Wash he genuinely liked but Zoe left him wary, uncertain. He respected her and knew she was one hundred per cent loyal. What did that say about him? Was he really just a rich, ungrateful little *baichi* who believed his and River's lives were the only ones that mattered? Had the mad, noble, psychotic Captain finally got something right? And if so, why did that fill him with a deep abiding desire to change things? To become worthy of this ragtag bag of rebels?

Before he could fully recover his sensibilities Kaylee came running into the infirmary, her face flushed and alight with joy. Eyes shining with excitement. Behind her River poked her head around the door and grinned at him. It was so infectious he found himself grinning back, then Kaylee was grabbing his arms and tugging him. "Come on, Simon! The horses are here, you have to come! They're so shiny!"

As if his ears had been momentarily detached from his body he grew distantly aware of the clatter of hooves on metal, the calls and cries of the Captain, Zoe and Jayne as they drove the stock into the waiting hold. He could hear the engine of the mule then the clang as the cargo bay doors were closed and sealed tight. Shepherd Book smiled at the good doctor but he wasn't noticing anything but Kaylee's sweet smiling face. All the love in the world held in those bright shining eyes for only him. Blinking back the moisture behind his eyes he let himself be tugged, pulled and coaxed out of the infirmary. Willing to go anywhere she wanted him to. As he was dragged out of the doorway River hung back and smiled at her brother, head tilting like a wise owl. "Told you!"

But Simon was too unspeakably happy to respond. Knowing now that whatever fears and reservations he might have his heart wasn't listening. Maybe River and Book were right. It was time to trust. To let his heart make the decisions that would mould the rest of his life. it wouldn't be easy but it had to be a damn sight easier than locking everybody out. This was his life now. His and River's. About time he embraced it.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*dong ma* = understand *jide* = remember *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *diyu* = hell *wode ma* = mother of God *duibuqi* = sorry *baichi* = idiot


Monday, April 18, 2005 2:51 PM


Aww...Ali, that was just incredible. You ended it so beautifully. It brought a tear to my eye. I'm glad that Simon's learning that he needs to trust. Even if he still has some reservations, it looks like he's going to try and get passed those.

This story is such a wonderful tale! Great job! =o)

Thursday, April 21, 2005 9:57 AM


Am I being dumb or are you suggesting Simon would have let Kaylee die? Personally, I don't see that ... but I'm prepared to go along with it for the good of the story.

I like the way Simon as you're painting him is so very Mal-like - suspicious, closed-off, wanting contact but mistrustful of other.

Oh, and the image of Simon being folded away and Dr Tam brought out - great!

Friday, April 22, 2005 8:08 AM


Kispexi2, the Simon we first meet is not the Simon who becomes a valued member of Serenity's crew. When we first meet him there is only River, she is his whole concern, everything else comes way down the list. If push had come to shove back then I really think he would have let Kaylee or anyone else die if it meant River would live. And KaySky it isn't the end quite yet. Thanks as ever for the feedback, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


You must log in to post comments.



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.