STOLEN MOMENTS: 20. "Family Ties"
Monday, May 9, 2005

"Simon learns to relax, Inara discovers something she already knew and the crew get another job."



SUMMARY: "Simon learns to relax, Inara discovers something she already knew and the crew get another job." 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

* * * * *

The air suddenly solidified around him and Simon Tam could not breathe. Horror reflected in his eyes as the realisation percolated through his mind that the Captain knew. Pain flooded his senses but none so keen or sharp as shame. "*Wo yuanliang*!" The doctor cried, looking stricken. All the while Simon had been questioning Mal's loyalty and his reasons for sheltering them the Captain had known the doctor had drugged him. It burned Simon and made him feel *goushi buru*. "*Wode ma* Mal, I never intended for you to know."

Something in the Captain's look hardened at this confession. That hadn't come out quite as the doctor intended but it was of little consequence now. It was too late to snatch the words back and time to be truthful. Simon stood slowly, stunned by the fact that the Captain had known but said nothing. His manner giving no indication of the knowledge he carried, a knowing that had to have cut the man deep. Yet there had been no outpouring of anger, no volatile retribution at the point of a gun or through the unfeeling maw of an airlock. It was almost beyond his understanding that the Captain could have that much control and still not seek to end him. And then there was River.

"Let me explain!" Simon paused to swallow and tried to contain the tremor in his voice and the fact that his hands were shaking. It was unsettling to realise that the moral imperative was no longer his. "I needed to know, to be sure that you didn't have some agenda for us. That the faith I was beginning to place in you wasn't a mistake that my sister would have to pay for. I should have known, should have trusted River."

The Captain's eyes narrowed in momentary confusion. "What you talkin' about?"

"River. She told me I could trust you. She never lost her faith in you, did you know that?"

"But I'm takin' it you did?"

"Mal, I never had that faith to begin with, don't you understand?" The boy's voice was rising now, a hint of hysteria fueled by guilt. Hands twisted together in misery and pain as he fought to regain an element of control. Frightened that the Captain might change his mind about letting them stay. If he had to beg Mal he would do it. Crawl over a desert of broken glass with Jayne on his back, whatever it took. Just so long as he could keep River safe for he knew now that Serenity was the closest they would come to a safe haven. Yet warring with this knowledge was the fact that Simon had seen this man kill in cold blood for far less than what he had done.

"Simon, calm down. Ain't gonna shove you out of an airlock no matter how much you try an' tempt me, *dong ma*?"

The doctor blinked, realising that the Captain's image was blurry because he was crying. Stunned at his loss of control Simon wiped the tears from his face. His embarassment muted by a wave of relief. The Captain stood and looked him in the eye. "Just what the gorram did you drug me for, Simon?"

"I needed to question you, ask you the real reason why you let us stay only I needed to know that whatever you told me would be the absolute truth." There was a slight hiccough in Simon's voice but both men chose to ignore it. The boy was trembling. "I feel so ashamed Mal."

The Captain fell silent and closed his eyes. Just what did he have to do for the boy to trust him? After a moment or two he opened them to see Simon staring at him in concern.

"*Ni hao ma*?"

"*Fang xin* Simon, just wonderin', why tell me now? You could'a just gone on pretendin' nothin' had happened."

"River wouldn't let me, also I owed you the truth." Simon felt sick to his stomach but at least he was no longer shaking. It felt good to get it off his chest. "Call it penance."

The Captain snorted, weariness tugging at him along with the ache in his heart at Inara's absence. But it was her choice just as coming clean had been Simon's. He had to respect that. Rustling up a ghost of a smile Mal ran a hand through his hair. "I'm not pleased with what you done, Simon, but it's good that you told me."

"It is?"

Mal reacted to the uncertainty in the boy's voice. "I'll say it one last time, I ain't gonna throw you off my boat, Simon. Not you nor River, *dong ma*? If you believe in nothin' else, believe that."

Simon nodded, struggling to wrap his head around the complexity that was Malcolm Reynolds. Whenever he thought he had a handle on the man the Captain would go and do something that would turn all his assumptions inside out. It was beginning to make his head spin just trying to keep track. "*Xie xie ni*."

"No need to thank me, just one thing?"

"What's that?"

"Next time you wanna know somethin' just ask."

Simon Tam stared at him. A small flicker of a smile echoed in the Captain's eyes before he turned and let himself out of the room. Simon sank down on his bed. Stunned and shaken. Teetering on the brink of emotional exhaustion. Before he could absorb everything that had happened a light step alerted him that he was not alone. River stepped quietly into his room, her eyes knowing and compassionate. Her love for him as unconditional as it was binding. "Told you." She averred quietly.

He nodded. "How did you know?"

River sat beside him on the bed and took his hand in hers, head tilting and eyes shining with such love that he thought his heart would break. "I'm a genius."

He tried to cover his emotion with humour. "You're a brat."

Her smile softened. Serious now. "Daddy would never hurt us, Simon."

Simon shook his head. "The Captain's not..."

"*Ni bu dong*. 'Friends are the family we choose for ourselves'." She quoted, pausing to let that sink in. "Do you understand now, Simon?"

He gave her a sudden smile then laughed softly. In River-speak it all made sense. And suddenly he had the feeling everything was going to be alright after all. No one, not even Simon Tam, could be afraid all the time. The relief of letting go was cathartic.

* * * * *

Lacey was all steely eyed pomp in front of the clientel but in the privacy of her room in House Arcadia all the artifice fell from her. A child like humour in a woman's face, her skilled and pampered body playing second fiddle to that of concerned friend. She had taken Inara to her room after the introductions had been made ostensibly to help her get settled in before meeting the House Mistress. Once in the privacy of her own room she coaxed her friend to sit down. Lacey knelt at Inara's feet eschewing her attempts to have her sit beside her. Lacey looked at her friend's face for a moment or two, tilting her face as she spoke in order to catch all the shadows and nuances of her friend's expression. "Why did you leave, Inara?"

For all of a heartbeat Inara Serra thought of lying. It was second nature after all given her profession but something in her was tired of hiding behind the mask. Besides. Lacey DeVal was a friend. A good one. And on any world in the 'verse that was a precious thing. "I had to."

Instead of pressing her Lacey waited, her right hand resting on Inara's knee. A silent affirmation of comfort and solidarity. A physical anchor for her wayward emotions.

"I was getting too close, Lacey."

"Who to?"

Inara wondered whether to tell her, whether she could bear even now to speak his name. "*Mei shi*, we're too different. We would end up destroying one another."

Lacey thought back and recalled the tall sombre man in Independent colours at the top of the ramp. He had been silent and withdrawn, taking no part in Inara's leaving but watching from the shadows with soul-deep eyes. Instinctively she knew he was the one. "The Cardinal Rule?" Asked Lacey softly.

Inara nodded, not trusting the words to pass her lips. Lacey rose up on her knees and engulfed Inara in a hug. The damn breaking in the safe confines of her friend's arms. Both knew nothing that passed here and now between them would be uttered outside of this room. Not even if the hounds of *diyu* should come knocking at the gates. But Lacey also knew that Inara had said all she was going to say about her time on Serenity. Not that it mattered to her for she could be patient. Little by little the details of what troubled her friend would leak out and like the good friend she was Lacey would be there to pick up the pieces. For now though, they needed to think of a good reason for the House Mistress. One that would not entice her to pry further into what was still an open wound.

* * * * *

Kaylee was so excited and it was rubbing off on Simon. Her eyes bright and shining she could not keep still. River watched with a smile on her face and said nothing. Simon was trying hard to think of a good reason why he couldn't leave the ship but the Captain had told him it was safe providing they didn't go too far. The bazaar was near the dock so a couple of hours in the bright sunshine looking at all the pretties was enough of a lure to make Kaylee all kinds of happy. The cherry on the top would be spending it with Simon.

"*Wo bu zhidao*, Kaylee."

Kaylee grabbed his fluttering hands and saw the smile she had been waiting for light up his eyes. That was when she realised his reluctance was feigned. He was teasing her. Kaylee's eyes widened with realisation and a heady delight set her heart on fire. "Why you ain't nothin' but a tease, Dr Tam!"

He opened his mouth to defend himself but had to laugh at her expression which ruined any chance he had of keeping his face straight. Then Kaylee kissed him and nothing else would ever be quite so straight again. The feel of her warm hands making short work of the buttons on his vest set his heart racing even faster. "Kaylee, we can't!"

Nothing stopped those questing hands and *tianna* part of him didn't want them to stop. Not ever. But not here, not with River sitting on the table watching and the chance of Wash or Book walking in on them. The commons room was definitely not the place to make out. "Ssshh, I'll take care of you, *xin gan*." Kaylee murmured in his ear.

"But River...."

His sister's sing-song voice cut off his protestations as his vest went drifting to the floor and his shirt began to follow. Kaylee's mouth sucking on his chest while her hands worked downwards, Simon wriggling but getting so hot it was hard to breathe properly.

"I'll be quiet, Simon." Said River. "Besides, someone needs to keep watch."

Simon's eyes widened in horror even as he began to respond to Kaylee's teasing, her mouth sliding up his neck to capture his open mouth, her tongue wrestling against his until he almost forgot his name. Then River's words sank in. River was going to watch? That horrified and disturbed him on so many levels.

"*Fang xin* Simon," She sang. "I'll be keeping watch. In case someone comes."

He could not answer, his breath gulping up from frantic lungs that were overheating with excitement. Body all on fire and responding only to Kaylee. He tried to warn her this was a bad idea but the only one listening to the panic in his mind was himself and that voice was being drowned out by a need and passion that he was rapidly losing control over. The last thing that passed through his mind before he tumbled backwards onto the couch was to thank God that the crew had been given another job and the Captain, Jayne and Zoe had left the ship. Kaylee smiled triumphantly against his lips as her hands locked on their goal luxuriating in the pleasure of a naked Simon as she began to caress him, her hand flexing round him as she did so and making his blood pump harder, so loudly it filled his ears. He groaned. It had been too long. As he responded and things got more frantic he was far too gone to even register his sister's gloating crow of delight. His heart pounding a jungle rythym of fever as Kaylee urged him closer and closer, his fumbling fingers removing the last of Kaylee's clothes until warm skin touched warm skin. Heart to heart, soul to soul, body to body, they did all but ignite.

Neither of them noticed the hesitant movement at the door. Shepherd Book's eyebrows rose, his expression one of calm surprise. "Oh my." As quietly as he could the Shepherd retreated. What the eye didn't see the heart couldn't grieve.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*wo yuanliang* = forgive me *goushi buru* = lower than dogshit/lowest of the low *wode ma* = mother of God *dong ma* = understand *ni hao ma* = how are you? *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *xie xie ni* = thank you *diyu* = hell *tianna* = oh God! *ni bu dong* = you don't understand *mei shi* = it doesn't matter


Monday, May 9, 2005 2:21 PM


Once again you have achieved excellence!

I really loved River's "I'm a genious". That line is typical River. As always, your River/Simon banter was well done. Very playful.

And I loved the ending. I can so imagine the look on the Shepherd's face. Hmm... do I forsee a lecture may be taking place later?

As always Ali, you've wrote something great. I can't wait to read what's coming up next.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005 10:29 AM


Again - much divine sweetness. Love Mal. Love Simon. Love Kaylee and Simon. Shiny. Sadly works calls - gorramit!


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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.