Play It Again, Tam
Saturday, July 23, 2005

The doctor reveals a hidden talent that touches Mal in a way he didn't think possible. A one-shot.


Disclaimer: This story is in no way meant to infringe on the rights of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, or 20th Century Fox. Just wanted to have a bit of fun with these characters is all. Please don’t sue me.

The lyrics to Simon’s song are inspired by music from Will Harrison. They are his property.

Thanks for reading. Feedback is always welcome. Cool with me if you want to archive this; just lemme know where.

Rated G. This story takes place after the events of my own fic “PoNR,” but is just a fun bit of fluff not related to that story. Just an idea I had in my head that finally made it to my computer.

“Play It Again, Tam”

***** *****

The doctor tried holding his breath, but somehow the thick smell of cigar smoke still got to him. He coughed a little, his eyes watering in the fog. He looked over at Jayne, who was busy arm-wrestling some other patrons. And beating them soundly. It seemed the more drinks the big man got in him, the stronger he became. Wash was having a ball at the arcade while his wife was whipping the captain in a game of pool. River was with them, taking in the physics, the geometry of the balls as they clacked into each other on the green velvet. Book had opted to skip this little outing. Simon figured spending a night in a rowdy saloon likely wasn’t the Shepherd’s idea of fun. Besides, someone had to stay with the ship. Serenity would be grounded at least another three weeks, and although the refit was going well, it wasn’t best to leave her completely vulnerable in a port like Rochelle. Mal had appreciated how hard the crew had been working during the repairs, and seeing as they weren’t going anywhere for a while, he figure it would do them all some good to stretch their legs a bit, just for tonight.

And then there was Kaylee. Didn’t have much of a poker face, that one. But she was obviously having fun, after having won the last two hands. Simon stretched and rolled his neck. He wandered around the bar for a bit, his mind restless. This wasn’t his kind of party.

Simon rubbed the irritation from his eyes. He jumped a little when he felt a heavy hand clap him on the shoulder.

“Lookin’ lost there, doctor,” Mal grinned. “The john’s that-a-way, if that’s where you’re heading.”

“No,” Simon returned politely, “Just...need to walk around a bit.”

Mal made a knowing face.

“I don’t care for large groups of people.”

“If it’s Feds what got you stiff,” Mal’s voice was low, but the grin didn’t leave his face, “ain’t no need of worry. No sign of Alliance for miles away, and new travels slow out here. ‘Sides, it’s easy to lose a face in a crowd like this.”

“I suppose…” Simon looked at him, then gave him a smile of his own. “I thought you were playing pool,” he taunted.

Mal’s smile quickly dimmed. A retort was on the edge of his tongue when Kaylee appeared. “Hey, y’all!” she beamed, her brightness slicing through the tension. She obviously had a buzz. “Don’t you think it’s awful quiet in here?”

Simon raised an eyebrow. The crowd was roaring.

“I mean, there’s no music,” she clarified, seeing the question on his face. “Ain’t much of a bar without music.”

She has a point, Simon thought.

“Ooh, lookit!” she cried, and before he could comment, the mechanic grabbed his arm and led him through the crowd to a small raised platform one side of the place. On it stood a small black piano, keys yellowed with age and dusty with neglect.

Without looking around or asking permission, Kaylee sat right down and began pecking at the keys. Simon winced. The thing was badly in need of tuning. Kaylee giggled as she hammered out a few disjointed chords.

“Why, Kaywinnit Lee Frye,” Mal folded his arms. “You are a woman of many talents. I had no idea we had a regular virtuoso on our crew.”

Simon’s face turned beet red. From across the other side of the saloon, River looked up at him.

“Nah,” Kaylee shook her head. “My momma used to play in church. She tried to learn me some things, but I wasn’t all that interested.” She slid over to one side of the bench and gave Simon a significant look as she patted the empty space next to her.

“I don’t know, Kaylee…” the doctor took a step back.

“Oh, don’t be such a chicken,” Mal gave him a gentle push toward the piano. He looked around, unsure.

“Come on, Simon,” Kaylee smiled.

Simon’s resistance melted away as he slid next to her, staring at the instrument before him. He cleared his throat, as he gingerly rested his slender fingers on the keyboard. His face grew even hotter.

“You take requests?” Mal asked.

“Um,” Simon started. “I don’t…I mean, I only know a couple of songs.” The Pledge of Allegiance, the Unification Anthem, things like that.

You know how to press the keys, a voice said within him. But you have to feel them. Don’t play from your memory, but from your heart.

River’s voice? No, she was on the other side of the room…

“Well?” Mal grinned again, enjoying the doctor’s embarrassment.

“I do know this one…” he said finally. It had been a long time. He shook his head, not sure if he remembered at all.

He felt Kaylee’s eyes on him and sighed. He allowed the weight of his hands to press into the keys.

It was unfamiliar at first. His fingers stuttered over one another. Two of the keys, middle C and low A#, were dead. Simon made a small sound in the back of his throat.

Play from your heart…

And the melody began to emerge, a little choppy at first, then flowing and haunting. For a fleeting moment the captain thought he knew the song. Mournful, and filled with longing.

“I had a vision, I had a name…” Simon sang in a whisper, straining to recall the words. “I was a dreamer with everything to gain…”

His nimble hands floated down the keyboard. Kaylee stared open-mouthed. Several patrons turned in their direction.

“Now I’m a stranger, lonely standing in the rain,” the doctor lamented. “Swimming in secrets, swallowing the pain.”

Mal listened, the lyrics rushing back to his memory all at once.

“Feels like I’m losing control, clouding my mind and piercing my soul. I look for the answers, pray to God, but nothing compares and I’m left alone, so I find a way, to fly away, fly away…”

Simon finished. And hesitated before looking up.

The captain put his hands together. Kaylee clapped also. And soon the whole bar was applauding. Even Jayne. The doctor didn’t know whether to take a bow or run and hide.

“That was really something,” Kaylee’s eyes were filled with emotion.

“…Thanks,” was all Simon managed to say.

The applause died down. “Well, doc,” Mal looked at him approvingly, “you gonna play us another song or what?”

The doctor looked at his sister across the room. River nodded. For the first time that night, Simon broke out into a genuine smile. He flexed his fingers and turned back to the piano.

And continued to play from his heart.


Saturday, July 23, 2005 10:29 PM


That was beautiful. I never really thought of Simon as the musical type, but for some reason, the idea of him playing a piano just seemed right.

And I liked the title. It's funny, the line that it's based on is never actually said in CASABLANCA. It's sort of like with "Beam me up, Scotty." Not once was that line ever spoken in the original series, but it's sort of become the big catchphrase of the show. Makes you wonder who some of the most famous quotes are lines that were never, ever spoken.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 8:22 AM


Excellent, I loved this and particularly loved how you brought a hesitant Simon out into the light, letting the music free him in ways nothing else could. Bravo! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, September 19, 2005 8:08 AM


I've been looking forward to having the time to check out other people's stories - especially yours.

That was lovely. Simon was so cute in it - and I like the way nothing was obvious or truly spelt out. Let me weave my own interpretations into it.

Gorgeous. Going to read more of yours right now.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005 11:30 AM


One other song toward the end might have been funny.

"Jayne....The Man they call JAYNE!"

Robs from rich and gives to the poor.... :-)

Otherwise...very good story.

Sunday, December 24, 2006 9:39 AM


I love piano playing hands - and I can so see Simon's surgeon fingers playing.


You must log in to post comments.



Heart & Soul, Part II
Book is visited by a mysterious man from his past and gets in a fight. Meanwhile Inara, ever calm, ever graceful, finds herself on the raggedy edge.

Heart & Soul, Part I
Mal's trying to adjust. Inara's trying to adjust. Book's journey takes him in an unexpected direction. And someone ends up dead.

Play It Again, Tam
The doctor reveals a hidden talent that touches Mal in a way he didn't think possible. A one-shot.

Point of No Return X, The Conclusion
Serenity is disabled, left without communication, and cornered by the Reaver ship. The only way out is for a member of the crew to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Point of No Return, Part IX
He's lost everything and everyone he's ever loved. Now he's faced with a choice: resist the urge for blood and rebuild his life, or descend deeper into that black madness, beyond the point of no return...

Point of No Return, Part VIII
A bad situation becomes desperate. Kai relives his troubled past, and Wash takes a dangerous risk. Plus: Mal and Monty's great escape.

Point of No Return, Part VII
The crew take on a new job, thanks to Jubal Early. Book gives Simon a helping hand in his investigation; Kaylee and Mal find themselves in a deadly situation; and Wash realizes they're not alone.

Point of No Return, Part VI
The day that Inara has been dreading for weeks finally arrives. Simon can't understand the connection between his sister and the Reaver, and the controversy continues over Serenity's newest crew member. Plus: River gives Mal a startling prediction.

Point of No Return, Part V
Jayne's plan backfires big-time; Kaylee is rescued by an unlikely hero with a troubled past; Book and Wash have words; and Mal considers a change of heart.

Point of No Return, Part IV
Simon tries to figure out River's relationship with his newest patient; Mal has a hard time trying to figure Inara out; and a simple job goes south in a hurry.