GENIUS SERIES: 20. "Better Angels"
Friday, March 10, 2006

"Kaylee has her bubble burst. river repeats her decision to remain on Serenity and the Captain and Simon come to more than blows."


TITLE: "BETTER ANGELS" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: No specific pairing. RATING: No specific pairing. STATUS: SEQUEL to "DEMONS" ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE:

SUMMARY: "Kaylee has her bubble burst. River repeats her decision to remain on Serenity and the Captain and Simon come to more than blows." 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

* * * * *

The look on Kaylee's face was one Simon Tam would long remember, inwardly wincing at the pain and distress he had caused her in leaving. All that passion after Miranda had translated to Kaylee as love, pure and simple and utterly fallacious. Oh, Kaylee loved and not just with her heart but all her being. Heart, body, mind and soul. Simon had lusted, craved, wanted, needed and taken the opportunity presented him with the notion that they probably would not survive to regret it. But they had survived and that had brought problems of another kind and a commitment he could not make. It did not matter that his sister wanted him to do just that. Wanted to see her best friend happy but Simon knew better. He was Top Three Per Cent and her brother. No one in the 'verse outranked his right to judge what was and what was not in River's best interest. But Simon Tam was out of his depth when it came to Kaylee.


He blinked at Serenity's mechanic, the tone in her voice hesitant and unsure. Simon realised what he was dressed in and how it must seem. A tiny smile relieved the stern mask of worry he could not hide. "Um, yes. I should perhaps explain these clothes..."

Kaylee shook her head and rushed to him, her arms wrapping round him before Simon could say or do anything to hold her back. Everything forgiven. Over Kaylee's shoulder his eyes met River's. Time stood still, all the planets frozen in their orbits, all the terrible selfish things he had done in his life mattered naught when compared to this moment. His sister. River. Safe. But for how long on this *lese* piece of *goushi*? These people reeled from one insane job to the next, and that meant his sister got dragged along with every crazy scheme their *hundan* of a Captain came up with. Then there was Kaylee. Gently but firmly he eased back so he could look into the mechanic's face. To his chagrin she was crying.

"Kaylee, don't cry *qing*."

"I can't help it, Simon, you just left. All them words soundin' so cold, left me empty. Was like none of us meant a gorram thing to ya."

Simon took a breath. Tried to be gentle, keep his voice reassuring without promising something he would never be able to give. At least with any permanence. "I never meant to hurt you, *bao bei*." Her heart fluttered at the use of the endearment, hoping it meant what she wanted it to mean. "I didn't mean to hurt anyone. I was frightened and worried and just had to get away, *dong ma*?"

"An' now, Simon? Ya back to stay?"

It would have been easy to prevaricate, to keep her hanging on to a hope that would never bear the weight of her rose tinted expectations. Only Kaylee didn't know that and it was wrong to pretend otherwise. "Kaylee, you know I'm fond of you don't you?"

Eyes shining Kaylee nodded. At least the tears had stopped. She could hardly breathe for the anticipation of hearing Simon's long awaited declaration of love. "*Qu*."

Simon was aware the others were crowding in through the door but ignored them. If he didn't make things plain now guilt over Kaylee would haunt him for the rest of his life. "We had a good time together, Kaylee, and I have no regrets." Her smile was so bright now it was burning him. "But I don't love you Kaylee, not in the way you want and need to be loved."

She stared at him for a moment in shock. Her expression darkening, all the happy swept from her face. Kaylee glared at him as if looking at a stranger wearing Simon's face. "Ya don't love me? That mean ya never did?"

"Kaylee..." Her voice was angry steel now. The Captain stood just inside the doorway watching and listening, Zoe beside him. Not inclined to interfere unless he had to. Jayne, Inara, Thadius and the others just the other side of the door. River sat in the pilot's chair and said nothing, her eyes flicking sadly from her brother to the Captain then drifting back to settle on Kaylee's tear stained face. "Then what ya come back for? To rub my face in it?"

"No, no Kaylee *ni bu dong*."

Kaylee's eyes were flashing now. "I understand just fine. I was alright when ya had a scratch needed itchin' but now I ain't good enough for ya."

Simon was mentally kicking himself. In his head he had planned out exactly what he would say to her, how he would steer her round any hurt feelings so that at the end of the day they could still be friends. He saw in a heartbeat what a load of *goushi* that little fantasy had been. Kaylee did not want a friend, she wanted a lover. Now the mechanic was blinking back tears, backing away when Simon reached for her. Mal wrapped a protective arm around Kaylee, gathering her hurt self towards him, his eyes boring into Simon like shards of blue ice. Coldest look he had ever seen on the Captain's face.

"You said you wanted to talk to your sister." Said the Captain in a stern but neutral voice. Determined not to give vent to his anger and upset Kaylee any further. Simon Tam might be Top Three Per Cent but he was a gorram fool when it came to womenfolk. Not that Mal was any expert but even he could see how inept the man was at speaking without putting his rutting foot in his mouth. Simon was like to die a lonely old man if someone didn't finish him off first.

Before Simon could say anything his sister took the iniative. "I'm not leaving, Simon. Being older doesn't make you wiser."

The Captain resisted the urge to smirk, Kaylee sniffing into his shirt front enough incentive to play nice. At least for now. Simon huffed, a stricken look on his face. "River, it isn't safe for you here. You need to come with me."

"Where? To a life on the run? Hiding out on planets without friends or family? No choices but the ones you make for me? Is that living, Simon? Having your existence spoon fed to you instead of being able to explore and choose for yourself?"

Simon did not know what to say. How to reach her. As the minutes and hours of his life ticked by his sister was getting further and further away from him. If not in miles and light years then in heart and mind. The distance was killing him.


He looked at her shining face, the love and understanding almost breaking him. "Come with me, *mei mei*." He whispered.

River shook her head. "I love you, Simon, but I have a mind of my own even when you cut your's off from me."

His heart faltered. Surely she couldn't know? Quickly he blocked such thoughts knowing there were too many present who would pick up on them and might start joining up the dots. "I just need to keep you safe."

"No, Simon, you need to control me and that isn't love."

Her words were knife wounds to his heart and yet she was not trying to hurt him, to cause him pain. River wanted him to understand but it wasn't his comprehension that needed fixing. More was going on than River realised and Simon knew the time for pushing was not now. Best to appear to retreat and consider another strategy. Always supposing the Captain would let him stay long enough to think one up.

"Not going to change my mind."

"We'll see, *mei mei*."

He started to turn when her next words caught him off guard. "I'm happy here, Simon. Why would you want to take that away?"

Resisting the urge to cry Simon eased passed the Captain and Kaylee and tried not to catch Inara's sympathetic eye. The Companion thought she understood, he could see it in her eyes. But Inara was wrong. They all were. With a jolt, Simon stepped on to the catwalk and face to face with Thadius Clay. For a moment neither moved, eyes locked on one another. Simon could see that Thadius had been aware of his thoughts and the notion that he might speak out or act on that knowledge was frightening. But what worried him more was that he could not pick up any sense of what the reader was thinking. A mind so completely mastered bespoke a level of control that Simon had not come across before. Almost he spoke on it, wanting to know, to find out more but it was too dangerous. Thadius and his friends seemed to have a strong loyalty to the Captain and Simon did not want to think about what they might do if they realised his true intent.

The Captain dropped a kiss on Kaylee's head and murmured into her hair. "You gonna be alright while I talk to Simon?"

Her look of panic raised a small smile on his face.

"Just talk, little Kaylee. Need to know what Simon's gonna do now, *dong ma*?"

She nodded, flushing slightly. "I'm shiny, Cap'n."

"That's my good girl, now you stay here with River."

"But I wanna come too!" She wailed. Her heart aching and breaking but still needing to know what in the nine hells had made Simon turn on her. Accepting his words had been one thing, understanding them was not yet within her grasp.

The Captain lowered his voice even though it was just him, Kaylee and River on the bridge now. He was well aware that the others lingered outside waiting for him. Mal put his hands on Kaylee's shoulders and dipped his head so he could look into her eyes. "Kaylee, havin' heard what Simon just said, you really think he's gonna open up to me about his feelin's for you? Have to say, sounded like he made his point clear. All that dancin' around wasn't nerves or indecision I'm thinkin, it was the act of a man who wanted one thing while the girl in question wanted somethin' else."

"You mean...?"

Mal nodded, his voice softening to cushion the words. "It is what it is, Kaylee. Can't make a man love you no matter how shiny the sex nor how pretty a face is. A body has needs, not just physical, *dong ma*? You been throwin' yourself, heart an' soul, at that boy since he came on this ship. Man's not made of steel."

"But... I thought he liked me."

"An' so he does, Kaylee, but like an' love ain't the same. No more than friend an' lover are."

She was tempted to ask him if it was that way it was between him and Inara but couldn't bring herself to raise a dischordant note just because she was unhappy. Captain had always been good to her and Inara was a true friend. "You don't have to protect me, Cap'n. I can look after myself."

His eyebrows rose, a flash of humour warming the stern face. "Mayhap you can but you're on my crew an' it's the Cap'n's job to look out for his crew. Or you plannin' a little mutiny here?"

That made Kaylee laugh. The break of sunshine through the anguish and pain of those storm clouds in her eyes all the vindication the Captain needed to know that his little Kaylee would mend. Might take a while but it eased his heart. Couldn't bear to think of her hurt or unhappy. Kaylee's laughter ebbed into a smile. Not the usual giga-watt variety but enough to show it was genuine. "No mutiny, Cap'n."

Mal nodded then looked at River. "An' how's my little albatross?"

"Still flying."

The Captain smiled, nodded then turned and left the bridge. Kaylee and River looked at each other, the mechanic feeling another outbreak of tears bubbling up from within. River sat up and opened her arms, Kaylee going to her. Letting Simon's sister comfort her as she cried.

"My brother's a boob."

Kaylee nodded into River's shoulder and held on tight. When River was right she was right.

* * * * *

There was utter silence in the Director's office yet Regan Tam did not move a muscle. Her eye contact was that of an equal though she did not openly flout that difference of opinion. The Director supposed he should be grateful for small mercies but he was not amused by the new Councillor's assumption of powers not yet in her purview.

Director Rossheim waved the flimsy in front of him, indicating the source of his intense displeasure. "What is the meaning of this? Since when did Councillors instruct Alliance ships without the permission of this office?"

Regan inclined her head, acknowledging his authority over her. "*Wo daoqian, shifu*."

"What was so important you let haste cloud your judgement, Councillor?"

"I just wanted to see my daughter, sir."

Her reply was not the one he expected. Narrowing his eyes he stared at her but the truth could be a very ardent witness. The Director put the flimsy down and linked his hands, a sign that he was preparing to listen to her. "*Jieshi*."

"You know my son, Simon. I also have a daughter - her name is River. River is..." She paused as if choosing the right words with care. "less stable." The Director's eyebrows rose slightly. "She is young, vulnerable. It seems she has been living on board a ship, a Firefly, among a disreputable crew. Hiding if you will."

That prompted a spark of interest. "Hiding? From what?"

For the first time since entering this audience with the Director, Regan Tam hesitated. A sure sign of the cost of her admission. "Us."

"I think," Said the Director with slow deliberation. "You should start from the beginning."

* * * * *

The Captain indicated for Simon to go with him to the commons room. Inara gave Simon a reassuring look then went to make some tea. Simon looked as if he was about to say something then looked at Thadius. Malcolm Reynolds gave Simon a nod while mentally asking Thadius and the others to give them a moment or two. Thadius did not like it. Was anxious about Simon's purpose. Although the Captain was not a reader he could sense the reason for the young man's hesitation.

"It's okay, Thadius. Just wanna word in private with Simon."

Thadius knew the request was verbally made to put the others at ease. All kinds of unhappy, Thadius mentally asked the others for the best way to comply with what the Captain wanted and yet leave him protected.

*He has his friends with him, Thadius*. Thought Michael. *And the woman - Zoe - is very protective, I do not think we need to worry*.

*There is also the mercenary.* Put in Carl, thinking that Thadius was over reacting. It wasn't as if Simon Tam was even armed. What could he do on Serenity? The crew would not allow Simon to harm their Captain. Ruben was not so sure. He glanced at Helen but she gave a mental shrug, prepared to follow whatever lead Thadius gave them. Ruben decided to fall in line.

"We'll be in our rooms then Cap'n, though I would like some of that tea first."

The Captain smiled at Thadius, recognising an olive branch hiding the compromise. Nodding he watched Ruben, Michael, Carl and Helen turn and head to the passenger quarters. Zoe looked at Thadius and frowned slightly but he did not look back, just walked passed the Captain towards where Inara was pouring tea into an assortment of missmatched mugs. Jayne was bored, his attention beginning to wander. Mal called him on it. "Jayne, *hai hao ma*?"

"Yeah, just restless is all."

"Why don't you go and heft some weights? Ask Ruben or one of the others to spot you."

Jayne thought about it for a moment but the thought of spending another moment in Simon Tam's company and not wringing his neck made the decision for him. He needed to cool down, if only because Kaylee would be upset if he did anything to Simon. Best to avoid the temptation. "I'll do that, Cap. Just call if you got any trash you want dumpin' outta the airlock."

The Captain gave a nod then looked at Simon. "River doesn't wanna go with you. Don't see that situation changin' any time soon. Where does that leave you?"

Inara handed out the mugs of tea. Thadius took a sip and moved around the others slowly until he was standing to the left of the Captain, his eyes fixed on Simon. Nobody sat down. Zoe frowned at the tension rising in the room, it was making her edgy. The Captain had the door behind him and was facing Simon, the table and Thadius to his immediate left, Zoe a little in front and on his right. Behind Simon, Inara glanced from face to face and wondered why everyone was so tense.

"Silence ain't no answer." Said the Captain quietly. Thadius hardly had any warning. The others had none at all. With a burst of speed the envy of most athletes, Simon moved towards Zoe as he replied, his words enough distraction to cover him lifting the gun from her holster. "I won't let you keep me from my sister!"

Time slewed to a hideous crawl, the loud retort of the gun firing shocking everybody into a frenzy of action. The first bullet caught the Captain in his stomach, Simon automatically correcting his aim for a shot to the heart. Thadius pushed the Captain aside and sent a strong mental command to attack Simon's shields. Inara screamed, Zoe cursed and launched herself at Simon. Heavy feet thundered on the catwalk then Jayne, Ruben, Michael, Carl and Helen ran into the room, the four readers linking minds with Thadius to disable Simon. Seeing in a single glance what had happened, Jayne didn't bother with questions but barrelled through everyone to reach Simon. Zoe had a hand on Simon's wrist, struggling for the gun. His mind distracted by the readers' assault, Simon's grip loosened and Zoe whipped the gun out of his hand and flicked it back so hard it caught him full in the face.

As Simon's legs buckled, Jayne grabbed him and lifted him off his feet. The anger sending a rush of adrenalin coursing through hardened muscles. Blood poured down Simon's face where Zoe had broken his nose. Jayne didn't give a good gorram. When he finished with the rutting *goushi buru* breathing wouldn't be a problem.

Zoe dropped to her knees, ignoring the slick pool of blood soaking up through her trousers, her concern for the Captain uppermost in her mind. Malcolm Reynolds lay half on his back and half on his side where the force of the shot had knocked him back just as Thadius had pushed him aside. Barely conscious, the Captain's eyes were closed, his breathing laboured. He did not respond at all when Zoe spoke to him, her hands carefully checking on the wound to see how bad it was. *Tianna*, he was losing too much blood.

"We have to get him to the infirmary!"

It was then that she noticed Thadius Clay. The man lay at an awkard angle, as if the body were broken and poorly arranged. Zoe frowned in concern at the widening pool of blood on his chest. *Wode ma*, was he dead? The eyes were open, slowly glazing over. Helen and Ruben moved passed Zoe to see to Thadius, Michael and Carl kneeling beside Serenity's first mate. "We'll help you get the Captain to the infirmary."

She nodded, too numb to say anything. Glad for Michael and Carl's help in lifting the Captain though her eyes kept returning to where Thadius lay. Trying to see what Ruben and Helen were doing. Hoping to see a flicker of life in those glassy eyes. All aware that the young reader had been the only one to intuit in time the danger and prevent Simon finishing what he had started. As she ran the incident over and over in her head a horrible thought lodged in her mind. Simon Tam had not come back to Serenity for his sister. He had come to kill the Captain. Even though she did not want to entertain the notion, the more she thought on it, the more convinced she was that it was the truth. Expression grim, her eyes locked on Jayne Cobb's, the mercenary shaking Simon in his huge hands. He wanted to hurt Simon bad but the *tamade hundan* had lost consciousness and mad as he was, it wasn't in Jayne's nature to kill an unconscious man.

"Tie him up!"

Jayne nodded, happy to have an alternative. He knew just how to make the bindings good and tight. There was more than one way to cut off a body's circulation but Zoe didn't want Simon Tam dead, she wanted answers. And with so many readers on board she knew just how she intended to get them.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*lese* = crappy *goushi* = crap/drog shit *hundan* = bastard *qing* = please *bao bei* = precious/treasure *dong ma* = understand *qu* = yes (lit. go) *ni bu dong* = you don't understand *mei mei* = little sister *shifu* = sir *wo daoqian* = I apologise *jieshi* = explain *hai hao ma* = are you okay? *goushi buru* = lower than dogshit/lowest of the low *tianna * oh God! *wode ma* = mother of God *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard


Friday, March 10, 2006 5:35 AM


O.O Wow that caught me by surprise!!! Please don't keep us hanging on for too long!!! :D Fantastic yet again!

Friday, March 10, 2006 5:57 AM


Whoa! Nuttiness! I must know what's going on! Hope more is coming soon!

Friday, March 10, 2006 6:13 AM


Ugh....can't say as I like where this is going. There has to be some underlying reason.

or - Simon is just off his rocker moreso than River.

Do wish you hadn't chosen to split up Simon and Kaylee though.

Friday, March 10, 2006 8:21 AM


G'ah... I'm very confused. First I was suspicious of Thadius, then openly concerned and now I start to like him and you kill him off. And don't even get me started on Simon because that's just one huge can of worms.

Great chapter again Alison.

Friday, March 10, 2006 10:30 AM


Oh My God! I can't believe Simon did that. And poor Thadius, what happened? WIll he be OK?

Please don't leave us in suspense for too long Alison


Saturday, March 11, 2006 2:12 AM


What a place to end the chapter! But it was a great one. Poor Kaylee and Thadius.
I hope Mal is ok? *rushes off to read next chapter*

Friday, November 4, 2011 1:19 PM


Is it bad that I really wanted Kaylee to kick Simon where it hurt instead if hugging him? Mayhaps a wrench to the head as well? XD I guess I'm just a horrible person. Shiny story! Crazy intense!!


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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.