GENIUS SERIES: 11. "No Hiding Place"
Monday, January 23, 2006

"Simon announces his decision to the crew but River has a surprise for him."



SUMMARY: "Simon announces his decision to the crew but River has a surprise for him." 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.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Three weeks later the last of the repairs had been completed on Serenity. A kind of lull had descended on ship and crew. They all knew they were lucky to have come through this but no one was celebrating. Each of them only too aware of what they had lost. It was time to go, back to the Black and the life left on hold while ship and crew healed. Recovery would take a mite longer. Kaylee stared at Simon as if he had sprouted three heads. "You're what?"

"I'm leaving."

They were all there. All that were left after Miranda. Captain Malcolm Reynolds sat on the edge of the table in their newly refurbished and shiny commons room, Inara standing next to him but not touching. An ease between them as if they had come to some kind of truce. One they could both live with. Jayne looked as if someone had stolen his favourite gun. He couldn't see what all the gorram fuss was about. If Simon wanted to leave, let him. Wasn't as if they couldn't get along fine without him. Zoe's eyes narrowed but she did not speak, prefering to keep her powder dry until she knew which target she was aiming for. She didn't like to see Kaylee hurt even though personally she liked the doctor well enough. There was just something about him and the tension between him and the Captain that was making her feel ansty. Perhaps it was just as well that the boy wanted to go though they would surely miss the luxury of a ship's doctor.

"Ain't there nothin' ya wanna stay for?"

Simon almost laughed. Kaylee was so predictable. It would be easy to string her along, pretend there was more between them than there was. And she would believe it too if he said so. But she would be so much extra baggage and where he was going he needed to travel light. "It wouldn't have worked, Kaylee. *Duibuqi*."

She was crying now, River getting mad because Simon was being mean. The Captain wanted to hit the boy so bad but he couldn't do that in front of Kaylee or River. If the boy was going the sooner the better but for once he kept his mouth shut. Let the boy be the one doing the leaving, he wasn't going to push. Simon caught his eye and smiled as if he could read the Captain's mind. Then Simon was thanking them all and saying his goodbyes, a hand reaching behind him for River. When his fingers closed on empty air he turned to see River backing away from him. A slight frown marred the perfection of Simon's finely sculpted face. "River?"

"Not going."

"*Mei mei*, you have to come with me now. We're going."

River shook her head and something tickled the back of the Captain's brain. Didn't know what it was but made him all kinds of protective of the little albatross. He eased himself to his feet and moved towards the girl. River went to him and allowed herself to be pulled into a one armed hug. Kaylee looked confused. What was going on? Why didn't River want to go with Simon and why did Simon look so angry all of a sudden?

"River ain't goin' nowhere she don't wanna, *dong ma*?" A flash of real anger wiped the schooled manners from Simon's face. "She's *my* sister, Captain. Mine!"

A memory stirred. It made the Captain go cold inside. Simon sounding for a moment too much like Gabriel Tam for his liking. "She don't belong to nobody." He said firmly. "If River wants to stay on my boat she can do so. Long as she gorram pleases. Ain't your decision to be bossin' her about."

"She needs me, the medication..."

"Makes her worse not better." Said River.

Mal stared at her. He was always a mite disturbed when she talked of herself in the third person. River smiled up at him. "It's alright Captain, River's just a girl. Normal now."

The fury on Simon's face was fleeting but they had all seen it and Simon knew he would have to go or arouse their suspicions but he didn't have to like it.

* * * * *

The Tam Estate had steadily been falling into a state of disrepair. Much of the facade and foyer looked as pristine as ever but the rest of the interior was beginning to show signs of neglect. Gabriel Tam's mind had finally snapped. Pushed to the limit he had lashed out physically and mentally, abusing his positon and his wife until both had retreated from him.

Unstable and oft times hallucinating he had been easy to manipulate but now he was no longer useful. By the time Simon returned to the family home his father was no longer an issue. Regan Tam stood shakily as the front door opened, her pale hesitant face breaking into a tentative smile. "Simon?"

Simon smiled back. A real genuine show of affection. With quick steps he crossed the tiled hallway and hugged her. "It's okay, mother, I'm home."

Delighted, she hugged him back and kissed his cheek before pulling back, her eyes drifting expectantly back to the door.

"She isn't coming." Said Simon gently. "River wanted to see more of the 'verse."

Regan held back tears and braced herself. At least one of her children had returned to her. Simon raised a hand and gently brushed the side of her face where the last faint image of a bruise was fading.

"I promise that no one will ever hurt you again."

Her looked sharpened on his face. "Your father..."

"Left this morning. He isn't coming back."

There was no shock, no horror, no distress. Just a look of mild surprise.

"So you see," Said Simon reassuringly as he steered his mother into the drawing room. Ignoring the fading carpet and the spaces on the shelves where certain priceless antiquities had once been on display. When he was done, these rooms would once again shine with the product of Alliance coin and there would be more servants bowing and scraping to do their bidding than many a Lord or titled Lady had recourse to employ. The Alliance rewarded well their faithful servants and who better to control them than Parliament? "We have nothing to worry about. I've been making a few enquiries and what do you know?" His smile teased its' echo on her lips.

"It seems there's an opening for a skilled councillor in Parliament."

Her eyes widened. Before her marriage to Gabriel Tam, Regan had been quite the political animal. "*Wo bu dong*, how is this possible?"

"Let me worry about the details. Come, we have time to talk while I help you pack."

* * * * *

At first Kaylee was inconsolable. Everyone tried to cheer her up from the Captain down. Even Jayne did his best but nothing would ease the pain of discovering that Simon Tam didn't love her. Oh, he had liked her fine enough and when he thought they were going to die had even admitted his one regret would be that they had not done anything about their feelings for each other only it wasn't love. Lust, desire, want, need. Call it whatever you wanted, a man had urges and Kaylee had been one of his. River had gone along to Inara's shuttle to help comfort Kaylee. Zoe shot the Captain a look.

"What now, sir?"

They were on the bridge, the Captain in the pilot's chair trying to hide how gorram weird it felt to be flying without Wash. His eyes sneaking odd glances sideways at Zoe to make sure she was okay. After the fifth or sixth time she called him on it. "Ain't gonna break, sir."

Mal went for nonchalent. Always figured he had a good poker face. "Mmm? What was that, Zoe?"

"I'm gonna be alright, sir. No need to go tip-toein' round me."

"Tip-toein'?" The Captain queried as if he had no idea what the good gorram she was talking about. "Why the good gorram would I tip-toe on my own boat? I swear Zoe you're makin' less sense than normal."

Her eyes narrowed dangerously but the Captain pretended not to notice. "You know what I mean, sir. Wash."

The Captain stopped flicking switches, stopped pretending the whole flying without Wash wasn't creeping him out. Little albatross would normally be flying but with Kaylee still in a state over Simon leaving it was taking both her and Inara to soothe his mechanic. He could kill the doc dead for that alone only he wouldn't. Simon was still River's brother and he had done all manner of crazy things to keep the ungrateful *baichi* alive on account of her. Not her fault that things had turned out the way they had. Well. It was. Only it wasn't on account of her not being in her right mind so to speak. Gorramit, his head was beginning to spin just going down that dead end road. "Wash was a good man, Zoe, an' truth to tell I miss him too. *Diyu*, I even miss his shirts." Zoe cracked a little smile and Mal felt his heart lighten just a smidgen. "Not nobody can fly this boat like your *zhangfu* an' that's a memory we'll carry that won't never die."

Her face saddened up again and Mal wanted to kick himself. "*Duibuqi*, I..."

"*Bu xie*, sir."

"No. No, it ain't alright. I'm a clumsy muddle-headed fool but fact is we all miss him, reckon some of us always will."

Not being able to argue with that Zoe just nodded and Mal went back to pretending he knew what all the switches on the console did. Of course, he knew how to go through a pre flight sequence, how to get his girl in the air and all the basics. It was the fine tuning, the trimming and art that were lost to him. A pilot had a feel for flying that couldn't be taught nor learnt. It was either in your soul or it wasn't. Mal was man enough to admit to that which was why he had hired him the best pilot he could find. Had never imagined losing him would hurt so gorram much. Almost as much as seeing the best friend he had in all the 'verse go through that whole breaking of the heart mess. He would have offered her comfort if he only knew how but had the sense not to try knowing he might well end up making her feel worse. As if sensing his awkwardness, Zoe cut her Captain and friend some slack.

"We goin' anywhere in this junker, sir?"

"*Wei*? Don't you let Kaylee hear you talkin' about Serenity that way. I may not be able to save you from rightful an' certainly painful retribution."

Zoe's eyebrows rose and disappeared in her hairline. Kaylee and painful retribution were not words that belonged it the same sentence. "Sir? Perhaps you should stick to gettin' this ship in the air?"

He grumbled softly but knew she was right. Seconds later the engine was running and shortly after that they were lifting off.

* * * * *

The office was plush but not garrishly oppulent. A restrained kind of wealth with every item in the room adding to the overall effect of power and status. There was no clutter, no extraneous pieces of furniture or furnishings. Not even a vaseful of flowers to add comfort to the sterile environment. Simon did not shift on his feet. Did not fidget or show any sign of impatience. He was dressed immaculately, the cut of his suit showing off his lean physique and trim figure. His hair neatly combed and face freshly shaved.

At last the paper shuffle subsided. "Agent Tam, report."

Simon concisely and accurately detailed everything that had happened right up to and including Miranda then his departure from Serenity and her crew. There followed a minute of silence.

"You did not return immediately as instructed."

"There was a loose end, *shifu*."


"The Operative you sent did not eliminate Reynolds and his crew."

"Neither did you."

Simon nodded, the only movement he allowed apart from his mouth. "*Qu*. They were not the problem."

That caught the councillor's attention. "How so?"

"Obedience is the cornerstone of a true believer. He stepped away from the faith. It has been corrected." He blinked. "*Zenme*?"

Simon turned to the door and snapped his fingers. Immediately a servant entered with a box. Tentatively the box was placed in front of Simon so that it was now between him and the councillor. Simon lifted the lid then stepped back. The councillor leaned forward and peered down, no expression on his face when he saw the lifeless eyes of the Operative staring up at him. Severed head bloody and a little mishapen from where it had tumbled across the ground after he was decapitated. The councillor leaned back and looked at Simon Tam as he calmly replaced the lid then indicated for the servant to remove it. Once the door had shut behind the servant conversation resumed.

"Your attention to detail is to be commended."

"And my request, *shifu*?"

The councillor stood and turned his back on Simon, staring out at the view from the twenty fifth floor window of Capital City. After a long silence he turned back to face Simon. "If your mother has a fifth of the dedication to duty that you have shown she will have a place in our Parliament."

Simon resisted the urge to smile. "*Xie xie ni, shifu*."

"Do not thank me. If she fails you will be carrying another box home, *dong ma*?"

Simon's face paled. With a curt nod he turned and left the room. It was a long time before the door behind the councillor opened and a man stepped into the room. His dark hair was greying a little at the sides but otherwise he looked fit and healthy. Eyes bright with intelligence. The councillor laced his fingers together and smiled.

"Your son shows promise."

Gabriel Tam nodded slowly. The cool calculation in his eyes slowly settling into one of grim satisfaction. Lies within lies. Wheels within wheels. It would be many years, if ever, before his 'family' were reunited. But sacrifices were always necessary when you were building a better world.

* * * * *

The job at New Hope had gone well. Trouble was the Captain had unwittingly upset Inara and she wasn't talking to him. River took them up into the Black then gradually the crew gravitated to the commons room for something to eat. Inara stayed in her shuttle. Kaylee finished her protein in silence then cut a sideways look at the Captain. "You should say somethin', Cap'n."

He put his mug down, a look of exasperation on his face. Truly he didn't have a clue what the good gorram he had said to tick Inara off this time. "*Shenme*? She's the gorram Companion not me!"

"That's why ya ain't gettin' any." Opined Jayne.

Everybody turned and glared at him, "Jayne!"

Mouth half full he frowned at them, not understanding their reaction. "*Shenme*?"

Kaylee rolled her eyes, River stifled a giggle. Zoe shook her head and said nothing. River decided the Captain needed a few pointers and leant over the table. "Inara is your Simon."

The Captain stared at her. Jayne was guffawing at his stunned expression, even Zoe smirked while Kaylee looked baffled and confused. It took Mal a moment to find his voice. "Simon? I ain't sly!"

River shook her head while the others chuckled. "Not what I meant. Two different worlds, Captain. You see something fine and shiny, so different from your world and what you're used to. It draws you like glitter to a magpie, fills you with want and desire but it can never be the other half of your coin. A pretty bauble to watch and admire but never yours to hold. She will never be the yin to your yang."

"What's that gotta do with me an' Simon?" Asked Kaylee.

River just looked at her. Slowly the dime dropped and Kaylee flushed. "Ya mean I ain't fine enough."

"No, just different worlds. Fish and Fowl."

"Who ya callin' foul?" Said Jayne.

There were smirks around the table. Mal was watching River closely. "What you meanin', River? Have to speak plain now."

"Captain Dummy Talk?"

The Captain nodded. River dropped into her storytelling voice. "The fish and the bird may fall in love but where will they build their nest?" Her head tilted, eyes flicking from the Captain's to Kaylee's then back again. Waiting to see who would understand first. "Reckon you made your point there." Said Mal quietly. In fact, the more he thought on it the more accurate it seemed. Kaylee still looked uncertain. River beamed at them.

"You can still be friends."

* * * * *

After New Hope they made planetfall on Sophia, a mid rim planet with little in the way of Alliance presence. Even though the War was long over and Miranda had effectively brought about the cancellation of the warrants on River and Simon, the Captain was still wary, Didn't hurt to be careful of where and when they showed their faces. Leastways until they all knew how the land lay here on in. The Captain knocked on the side of Inara's shuttle before entering. She barely looked up from her dressing table, carefully applying the last of her makeup. Mal watched her for a moment, River's words going round and round inside his head but making the kind of sense that left him little leeway to argue. Best be up front about it, save all this dancing around. No sense hoping for something that could never be.

"'Nara, was wantin' to have a word before you go."

She was about to say something sharp then caught the look on his face in her mirror. Intrigued she held back the insult to see what he had to say. The Captain put his hands in his back pockets, looking down at his feet as if something mighty interesting had given birth on her carpet.

"I'm thinkin' I might be owin' you an apology."

Her eyebrows rose. Malcolm Reynolds apologising? *Diyu* was the 'verse coming to an end? When she didn't say anything he risked a look. Their eyes caught and locked.

"River said somethin' that made a whole lot of sense. Don't know why I never saw it before."

Now she was beyond dumbfounded. What in the nine hells was he talking about? "River?"

"*Wo zhidao*." He gave that little amused smile that made her heart do little back flips. All the sweeter because he didn't realise how cute it made him look. An off balance almost shy Malcolm Reynolds was an endearing sight. "Who would have thought? Our little albatross into family guidance?" That made Inara's ears perk up in an unexpected direction. "Seems we're like fish an' fowl, I swim, you fly *dong ma*?" Inara didn't have a clue what he was talking about. Mal flushed when he saw that her confusion only seemed to be deepening. "*Diyu*, made a whole lot more sense when River said it."

"Perhaps you should just tell me what River said, Mal."

"She said a fish an' a bird might fall in love but where would they build their nest?"

A little smile quirked up the sides of Inara's lips. The Captain wasn't sure whether she was smiling at River's words or making fun of him.

"Said that's why you couldn't be the yin to my yang or somesuch."

How Inara stopped herself from laughing at the sheepish expression on his face she did not know. All her earlier anger and irritation were gone. Some times the man could be thicker than Jayne and that was saying something. Gracefully she rose to her feet and walked towards him. The Captain watched her with a wary eye, not sure if this was a good development or not.

"Mal," She said sweetly, setting all his fear or flight warnings off at once. "Why do you think I came back to Serenity?"

He blinked. "This a trick question?"

A flicker of irritation interrupted her smile. He spoke quickly before anger could set in.

"Um, not that I'm sayin' that but I figured you came back on account of.. of Kaylee an' the others an' I know you liked havin' the shuttle..."

She shook her head, amused. Realising that only direct action would help fill in the blanks. Really, how men managed to cope at all without a woman in their lives baffled her. He stood stock still, shock radiating off him and freezing him in place when her warm lips brushed his. He went to step back, so he could look into her eyes convinced she was teasing, making fun of him with them feminine wiles. But Inara was sick of waiting for him to catch the clue bus. Afraid that their awkward skirting round each other would just end up with them hurting each other. She hadn't come back for that. "Mal." Her warm breath filled his startled mouth, then her lips found his again, her arms snaking up round his neck and pulling him to her so she could deepen the kiss.

It was not hard to convince him of her meaning once their bodies touched. All thought left his head, there was only feeling. Emotions deep and complicated flowing like electricity through his veins. So intense it burned. He moaned, his body reacting to her nearness, his senses reeling from her perfume. Her hands all over him, her body cupping his, her tongue in his mouth, the warm flutter of her lashes stroking his cheek. Gorramit he was lost. "'Nara," He groaned with the last remnant of his self control. "You best be meanin' this."

But Inara didn't answer. She was too busy manouevring the Captain over to her bed, one hand reaching out to lock the shuttle door and dim the lights. Malcolm Reynolds didn't notice. By the time the two of them tumbled back onto the bed Inara Serra was lost too.

* * * * *

River and Kaylee were in the engine room. Kaylee's eyes went round as saucers as River explained. Kaylee forgot all about the game of jacks they were playing on the floor.

"You think it'll work?"

River Tam grinned. She was a genius after all. "Shock tactics."

Half laughing and half awestruck Kaylee stared at her friend. "But you said they was like me an' Simon, from two different worlds. Ain't that true?"

"*Qu* but if they both love each other it won't matter. They just need a nudge in the right direction to realise it. Can't hide from love."

It was only much later when Kaylee was lying alone in her bunk thinking that it occurred to her that the reason she and Simon hadn't stayed together was that he didn't love her as much as she loved him. It hurt but not as much as she thought it would. For a time things had been shiny. Closing her eyes she just knew that wasn't gonna be Cap'n and Inara's problem. The only ones who hadn't been able to see the passion coming off them was their own selves. Kaylee went to sleep with a smile on her face, wishing just this once she could be a gorram fly on the wall. She wanted to know if the Cap'n would laugh as he came.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*duibuqi* = sorry *mei mei* = little sister *dong ma* = understand? *wo bu dong* = I don't understand *baichi* = idiot *diyu* = hell *wei* = hey *zhangfu* = husband *bu xie* = you're welcome *shifu* = sir *zenme* = how *xie xie ni* = thank you *shenme* = what *wo zhidao* = I know *qu* = yes (lit. go)


Monday, January 23, 2006 7:47 PM


LOVED IT!! Especially the "clue bus". Just what is Simon up too, I do believe he is evil!, and not in a good way either!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 2:15 AM


I love River's shock tactics. Finally the Captain and Inara have gone a step further.

And Simon is certainly evil, ick! What's he going to do next?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 9:29 PM


Lurker recently come out of hiding. What can I say... I just love your style, you have a real talent. Keep up the good work.

Keep Flyin

Monday, January 30, 2006 8:01 AM


I don't like Simon being evil - sorry, I just gotta say it. Plus, how could he hurt Kaylee like that? In front of everyone? That is harsh.

But the tone and story are solid.

Saturday, February 4, 2006 10:31 AM


Very enjoyable, great writing! Love the dark turn this series has taken.

Sunday, February 12, 2006 8:17 AM


I love your river. She's just about perfect!

Saturday, April 22, 2006 1:23 PM


hee hee, shock tactics. You had me scared for a while that neither S/K OR M/I would work out! And my god, how did Simon get to be such a gorram hun dan???


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.