BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

TAMSIBLING

A NEW LIFE, ch. 1: Life Is Strange
Tuesday, June 6, 2006

6 Months Post-BDM. The crew of Serenity tries to move on after the unexpected loss of another one of their own. However, old acquaintances are not forgotten and confusion reigns. Simon/Kaylee, Mal/Inara, River/Jayne (early)


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2579    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

A/N: See? All those shiny comments and great feedback encouraged me to post quickly!

Here is chapter 1 - where the real angst begins. For those of you new to this series, it's probably best to read the prologue, Nothing Lasts.

Many thanks again to Leiasky - for just about everything!

Enjoy - and leave more feedback. Please and thank you.

***

A NEW LIFE, ch. 1: Life Is Strange

***

River watched Kaylee leave the ship from a hidden, dark corner of the cargo bay. She couldn’t go out there and say goodbye to her friend, even if Kaylee had wanted her too. River couldn’t willingly watch Kaylee, a girl who had become like a sister, walk away from her too. She just couldn’t.

River’s heart still ached from Simon’s absence. She knew it was similar for the mechanic who River watched gather her small bags and follow Mr. Everett from the cargo hold. River had tried half a dozen times in the past month to get through to Kaylee, to let her know that she shared the other girl’s grief. But at every turn Kaylee had made it clear she wanted nothing to do with the psychic and River could not blame her.

It killed River to know that her brother was gone. The pain and emptiness she felt threatened to consume her, swallow her whole at any given hour of any day. She tried to remember Simon the way he’d always been: loving and kind, a good brother, a good son, but she couldn’t – she couldn’t focus on any of the happy memories. All she could remember was the look in his eyes as he’d been led away in handcuffs and the pain in his heart as he’d left Kaylee and her and the rest of their new family behind.

Never had River been so helpless. It brought a level of guilt to her sadness that caused waves of nausea, her stomach constantly churning as she thought over all the things she could have done differently to save him. She should have gone in his place. It was her they wanted, her brain, her abilities, not Simon’s. They only wanted Simon so they could make him suffer and then kill him. They wanted him so they could cause her more pain. The Alliance had no idea that once Simon was gone, there was no hurt in the ‘verse that she could feel more deeply.

River turned from the now empty cargo bay and made her way along the catwalk toward the front of the hold. Once at her favorite spot, she lay down on her stomach, the metal grate biting into her skin through the sheath she wore, but she didn’t care. River felt very little now in the way of physical sensation. Her body had been on overload ever since Simon had gone and with the heightened level of sensitivity and the overwhelming emotional burden, her body had been forced to insulate itself and she was numb to the sensation, any sensation.

She had tried to convince herself over the past ten weeks that Simon was not dead. That the Alliance was simply holding him, maybe torturing him, but that they hadn’t killed him. But it was a wish, not a reality, River knew that. She knew it with certainty because she could no longer feel him. Regardless of her psychic abilities, River and Simon had always been close, closer than any other siblings they’d ever met. Even before the Academy River could feel Simon’s joy or sorrow clearly, if sporadically. And now, she could feel nothing from him.

River hadn’t shared that revelation with anyone. The crew was still drowning in their own guilt over Simon’s disappearance and death. They didn’t like to talk about it, especially with her. It made them all feel worse. So River kept her guilt and her knowledge a secret, knowing that if she voiced it out loud it would be true and she didn’t want that. She didn’t want any of this.

Large tears rolled down her cheeks, hitting the metal and falling through the crevices to the floor below like rain. River let them fall, unable to stop the tears or bury the pain that caused them. She wanted her family back. She wanted Simon with her and Kaylee and the whole crew to be happy and whole again. But what she wanted didn’t matter – River was starting to see that now. No matter how good she was or how sad or how determined, she was powerless to control her own fate or that of her loved ones.

With renewed grief, River continued to sob.

***

“'Nara?”

Inara turned at the sound of the soft voice and found Mal standing uncertainly in her doorway. She had left him after Kaylee had gone, unable to stomach being with people at the moment. Her heart was heavy and even as she tried to muster a smile for him, she knew it was a futile attempt.

“What is it, Mal,” she asked quietly, rising from her seat in front of the cortex screen to sit on the couch.

It was where he came to join her. Sitting a hands-breath away, Mal was unable to voice his reason for the visit. Inara watched him try and gather his emotions. She could read his pain as it danced through his bright, blue eyes and her heart broke a little more – for him. She knew he blamed himself for this entire situation and she knew that he feared she was angry with him for Kaylee’s departure. But the truth was, they had all lost too much over the past six months to continue holding grudges against one another.

“I’m sorry.” When he finally spoke his voice was quiet and broken with tears that would not fall.

Inara felt her eyes widen involuntarily as she realized he had just apologized to her. In all the years she had known him not once had he ever done that. It was just a clearer indication to her of how far they had come and how much they meant to one another.

Covering his hand with hers, Inara shifted to face him, and whispered, “It’s not your fault, Mal.” When he refused to look at her, she reached out her other hand and tipped his chin in her direction. When his eyes finally did reach her face, her own eyes filled with tears at the sight. He was more upset than she had ever seen him and instantly her broken heart swelled with concern for him. “You didn’t want Kaylee to go and I know you wish you could have prevented Simon from being captured.”

He nodded slightly at her assessment, and then did something else he had never done before. Without another word, he rested his head in her lap, curling an arm around her knees and cried, openly and unashamedly. Quickly getting over her shock at his strange behavior, Inara wrapped her arms around him and cradled him as he sobbed, crying right along with him.

***

The trip to the Everetts’ was short, but it felt incredibly long to Kaylee. She sat beside Mr. Everett in the mule, one of her smaller bags on her lap while the rest of her belongings had been piled into the seats behind. She watched the colors and sights of Beaumonde fade as the mule sped towards the outskirts of the city. The Everetts’ shop was on the far side of the city proper, a little out of the way, but still within easy reach for any of the traders, merchants or captains who wished their boats to be fixed by the best. Everetts’ Mechanics was considered the best shop on this half of the planet and Kaylee knew they saw their fair share of work, from large, transport vessels, to mules like the one she was riding in now. She knew she would be able to put her skills to use and that she would never want for work. Kaylee just wished that knowledge could make the sinking sensation in her gut disappear.

She had tried very hard not to cry as she had walked away from Serenity, but it had been near impossible. Once she’d made it into the mule, Walt had gazed at her with his kind eyes, patted her on the knee and said, “Don’t you worry, Kaylee girl, we’re gonna take good care of ya. You’ll find a place here.”

Kaylee had only been able to nod at the older man, grateful for his words, but knowing that no matter how long she stayed or what she did, she would never be at home on Beaumonde. Her home had been with Simon, wherever he was, and now he was gone, for good. She had no home, no place in the ‘verse, and it was the most desolate feeling in the world.

As the mule lurched to a stop, Kaylee felt her stomach slide forward as well, and had to steady herself against the vehicle’s side to keep her breakfast down. Shaking off the bout of nausea, Kaylee hopped down from the mule, and turned to look at her new residence.

The Everetts’ house was simple, but sturdy. The shop was over to the side, the yard around it full of derelict machines and used parts that she knew Walt kept around with the full intent of reusing them some day. From this distance, she could see a few folks milling about and the sight of what looked to be a Cappisen 38 engine being worked on. Wrinkling her nose involuntarily at the shoddy piece of equipment, she was saved having to explain her disgust by the sound of a loud yell.

“Well, I’ll be!”

Turning in the direction of the voice, Kaylee could not help but smile as Marie hurried across the yard to greet her. She was exactly as Kaylee remembered, round and short. Marie had flour on her cheeks as often as Kaylee had grease and as she stepped forward to embrace the girl in a hug, Kaylee drank in the familiar scent of vanilla. While Walt’s domain was the garage, Marie’s was the kitchen and Kaylee could tell as the woman stepped back to again regard her with a calculating eye, that she had been cooking up a storm all morning.

Wiping her hands on the apron at her waist, she reached for Kaylee’s bag and took it before the younger girl could object. Turning her towards the house with an arm around her shoulders, Marie said, “Kaylee Frye, you don’t look a day older than the last time I saw you!”

Kaylee knew she was still smiling, but it was impossible not to when in the gregarious woman’s presence. Marie had always welcomed the crew of Serenity into her home any time they had stopped by, giving them a fresh, home cooked meal and listening as they regaled her and her husband with their daring exploits. Her and Walt both had known Mal and Zoe since before the war and considered both of them, and then by association the entire crew, to be their children. Having no children of their own, Marie always had plenty of love and attention to spoil them with.

Sighing for a moment, Kaylee realized that for the first time in a long while she felt relief. Relief to be away from Serenity and the memories it held; relief to be part of a new family; relief to be loved unconditionally by this woman who truly did consider her a daughter.

“You’ve got to fill me in, girl,” Marie was saying as Kaylee again focused her attention on her host. “What’s been happening with you? Walt and I of course are just tickled you’re going be working with us. You’re so talented and pretty to boot!” The woman let out a hearty laugh that brought another smile to Kaylee’s face and unexpected tears to her eyes. It had been so long since Kaylee had been around happy folk she’d almost forgotten what that could be like.

Noticing her sudden sadness, Marie squeezed her against her side for a moment as she ushered her through the house and up the stairs to a waiting bedroom. “Now, now, sweetheart, no need to be cryin’. We got everythin’ you need right here, don’t you fret.” Kaylee nodded once and blinked her eyes to rid them of the excess moisture.

“Now, here we are.” Marie brought her into the room and Kaylee could see it had been lovingly prepared. There were fresh flowers in a vase on the dresser and clean linens laid out over the bed. One of the room’s two windows was open, allowing a gentle breeze to blanket the room and Kaylee immediately felt comfortable in these new surroundings.

Setting down her bag, Marie said, “Now, I’ll have the boys pile up the rest of your things in the hall so you can get some rest. You look tired, honey,” Marie said as a protest rose on Kaylee’s lips. “Don’t try tellin’ me otherwise, I’m older and wiser than you,” the woman scolded and Kaylee could only nod. “The bathroom’s right across the hall and there’s fresh towels under the sink. You get comfy and get some sleep and let me know if you need anything. Walt’s not expectin’ ya to work until you’re good and ready, so just take your time.”

Marie turned to go, but Kaylee grabbed her hand as she turned. “Marie,” Kaylee said quietly, her tears back. “Thank you, so much.”

Patting her hand, Marie smiled warmly at her, and said, “You’re more than welcome, sweetie. We’re glad to have ya.”

Nodding to her once, Kaylee watched as the woman left, closing the door behind her. Standing alone in the middle of her new room, Kaylee felt the tears pooling in her eyes start to run trails down her cheeks and she let them come. Along with them came another bout of nausea and Kaylee sat quickly on the edge of the bed hoping it would pass.

She had been feeling slightly out of sorts for a while now, ever since Simon had gone. Kaylee had of course chocked it up to stress, her emotions having been put through the ringer. She hoped that now that she was on solid ground, eating fresh food and hopefully sleeping regularly that she would begin to feel more like her old self. But even as Kaylee lay down on the worn, but comfortable bed, she doubted if that were possible. Her old self had been the one in love, safe and protected, surrounded by family.

Maybe the Everetts could be a new family. Kaylee tried to lull herself to sleep with that thought, even as her stomach continued to do flips and her tears continued to fall.

***

Two Months Later

***

When Regan heard the doorbell sound, reverberating through their large, grandiose home, she thought for sure her heart would beat out of her chest in anticipation. Sending a questioning glance in her husband’s direction, Gabriel came to her side, placing a light hand against her shoulder as a form of comfort.

They waited in silence, listening as their house steward opened the door. The muffled voices were too far away to be distinguishable, but Regan could have picked out that new voice from millions of miles away.

Rising, she placed a light kiss to her husband’s cheek, and then, blinking away fresh tears, turned, just as their servant entered the room and said, “Mister and Mrs. Tam. Simon has returned.”

The aged man stood aside and Regan’s heart did leap into her throat. The sight of her tall, handsome and grown son standing across the way caused a joy to light her features that she had not felt for some time. Biting her lip slightly, she watched as Simon’s blue eyes surveyed the room, and he took a few steps closer to his mother and father.

Finally, unable to contain herself, Regan rushed to him and embraced him tightly. “It’s so good to see you, son,” she whispered to him, her voice broken with tears.

Simon held his mother back, inhaling her familiar scent and remembering with fondness all the good times he and his parents had shared in this room. All the good times before he’d been shipped off to the hospital, having suffered a mental breakdown that rendered him incapacitated for four months – four months, gone.

So grateful to be resuming his normal life, Simon released a deep breath he hadn’t known he was holding and whispered back, “It’s good to be home, mother.”

***

“Doctor Tam.”

No response.

“Doctor Tam.”

The second time the voice sounded it was much more forceful and that was Simon’s cue that he had napped long enough.

Blinking open his eyes, he blindly grabbed for his lab coat as he addressed the nurse standing in the half-open doorway. “Yes. What is it?”

“A case for you, doctor,” she told him, pushing open the door the rest of the way and ushering him through. Setting off at a brisk pace towards the ER, Simon was soon walking in step with her. “Just came in. Gunshot wound to the abdomen.”

Simon nodded once, his mind already running through possible techniques, scenarios and complications that could arise during surgery. He had already mapped out about five different contingency plans as he stood over the patient and grilled the medics who had brought her in. “Status?”

Reaching the OR doors in record time, Simon saw with satisfaction that his surgical staff was prepped and ready to go. This was indeed the best hospital in Capitol City; his mother and father had not been wrong about that.

Shrugging into a surgical gown, Simon took charge of the room, giving orders to his nurses and staff so he could begin the very important work of saving a young girl’s life. The prognosis was good – the patient was healthy and strong and a quick and full recovery could be expected.

Compelled with a need he could not rationalize, Simon glanced over the surgical curtain to take in her face while the anesthesiologist put her under. She had flowing brown hair that had been tucked behind her ears and her face was a pleasing round shape. Simon could tell she smiled a lot, based on the abundance of laugh lines and the start of wrinkles at the corner of her eyes, eyes he was sure would be green when she came to a few hours from now.

“Doctor?”

The nurse’s voice pulled him from his musings. Definitely a sign of sleep deprivation, he scolded himself as he demanded a scalpel. There was no other reason he could come up with that would make him so curious about some girl, a patient, whom he had never met.

Thankfully, he was coming to the end of his 36-hour shift and he’d be able to go home and get some sleep. Shaking off the last remnants of the green-eyed girl’s beautiful face, Doctor Tam, famed trauma surgeon, went to work.

***

“Hey Tam, wait up!”

Simon turned to see his friend jog up beside him. Silently Simon cursed the man for looking as fresh as he had when he’d started his shift a day and a half ago. Truth was, Simon had once been able to pull longer shifts as well, but as of just a few months ago he’d found 36 hours was all his body could handle.

“Keller, where the hell do you get all your energy,” he asked him, resuming his walk out the hospital’s door. His friend fell into step beside him and answered devilishly, “From the ladies.”

Simon could only chuckle. Kell considered himself quite the lady’s man and his full days and nights when not working seemed to support the theory; so completely different from Simon himself.

“So, where’re you heading?”

Turning a wary expression to his friend, Simon felt the cool night air of Capitol City brush his cheeks as he stepped outside. Drinking in the crispness for a moment, he finally said, “To bed. Where are you going?”

“Out,” Keller said simply, his tone anything but innocent. “Come on, Simon, you’ve got to come.” Keller stopped him a hand on his shoulder.

Facing him, Simon had to laugh at the seriousness of his friend’s expression. Grabbing him by the shoulders, he said sternly, “Simon Tam, it has become my mission in life, self-imposed of course, to not let you turn into an old man at the age of twenty-seven.” Simon rolled his eyes, but Keller continued unimpeded. “It is also my mission to remind you, at every chance I get, that you are a handsome devil and the best gorram trauma surgeon on Osiris.”

Cocking an eyebrow at his friend, Simon waited for the payoff. When Keller didn’t volunteer it, Simon prompted, “So?”

“So!” Keller threw his hands in the air and paced away from him for a moment, muttering to himself. “So he says. So.”

Simon watched bemused as Keller went through his usual gyrations. This was not a new conversation for either man. Keller, whom Simon had known since they had been roommates freshman year of med school, was more confident and self-assured and constantly busting Simon’s chops about his seeming inability to have any fun. So with learned patience, Simon crossed his arms over his chest and waited for this latest wave of “party therapy” to fade.

“My point is,” Keller finally said again, turning to face him. “You could get any girl you want, but instead you go home, alone, night after night …” As he endured another eye roll from his charge, Keller decided to add, “After night.”

Sighing heavily and knowing that this was a fight he probably did not have the strength to win at the moment, Simon asked, “All right then, doctor. What is the cure for my fuddy-duddy-itis?”

Grinning wickedly, a characteristic twinkle lit Keller’s brown eyes. “Come out tonight,” he told him, barreling ahead before Simon could protest too much. “We’re all meeting at the Valley.”

“Who’s we,” Simon asked, suspecting her already knew, but if Keller was going to willingly set him up, then it was only fair that he admit it first.

“The usual suspects,” his friend replied casually, running through the list of names. “Beckett, Geoff, Rae, Marcus,” he paused for a moment and Simon knew who would come next. “Alicia.”

Groaning, Simon rubbed a hand over his tired eyes and whined, “Keller.”

“Simon,” he answered, matching his tone. “Mon ami, why do you make life so difficult? You like Alicia … she likes you … girl meets boy … boy runs away from girl … This is the story of your life my friend.” Clapping a hand on his shoulder, Keller gave Simon his best pained expression. Placing his other hand over his own heart, he said, “And it hurts me.”

Sighing once more, Simon knew trying to refuse now would be tantamount to reversing the aging process. Readjusting his bag, Simon turned to his friend and asked, “Does the Valley have good sake?”

***

“He’s doing remarkably well.”

“Considering the amount of neural reprogramming we did, his reintegration into his old life is outstanding.”

“Gentlemen, before you break your arms patting yourselves on the back, perhaps we should discuss the problems.”

Both blue handed agents turned to regard the older man with blank looks. Suppressing the overwhelming urge to roll his eyes at them, Gabriel Tam pushed ahead. “He’s noticing the fatigue more and more. When he first got back, his mother and I were able to convince him it was just because he wasn’t used to the routine, but the longer the tiredness persists, the more testy he’ll become.” Looking between both of the agents, Gabriel was not surprised to see that their expressions had not changed – not an inch. “So?”

Blinking to each other, the agent on the right answered, “There is nothing to be done regarding the fatigue. It is an unavoidable side effect of the type of work he’s had done. We can give him drugs to increase his stamina, but anything that effects his brain is not advisable at this stage.”

“Definitely, not advisable,” the other agent chimed in. “Your son is an overachiever. Just explain to him that his fatigue is a sign that he’s working too hard and needs to get enjoy his life.”

Gabriel would have laughed if he thought the two men had a sense of humor, or if he thought they were truly trying to make a joke. “Simon is again adjusting to his old life. He’s reformed his circle of friends, is doing excellently at the hospital – in short, he’s doing everything we set out for him to do.”

“Then why are you worried, Mr. Tam?” Both agents regarded him with empty eyes and Gabriel could only shake his head in return. He had no real reason to be overly concerned. Simon was indeed exhibiting signs of his old self. He’d taken to working the same hours, as much as his body would allow, going out with the same friends, telling the same jokes and relating the same stories. When he wasn’t doing any of those things, he was studying, trying to deepen his understanding of medicine and make himself more valuable to the hospital and the people in control who would one day place him with the Medical-Elect. He was again the son Gabriel and Regan had raised and the one they had always wanted.

So why was he so concerned? “My son is very smart, gentlemen,” Gabriel finally said, his voice quiet. “We can’t afford for anything to go wrong.”

***

Don't forget those nice, shiny comments you want to leave!

COMMENTS

Tuesday, June 6, 2006 5:51 PM

LEIASKY


Post one chapter per day and you will keep your readers nice and happy:)

Ahh, the angst! The only one not suffering from it is the one who has CAUSED all of it! Simon. Who can't remember anything of his old life!

I like this Keller fellow too. Trying to draw Simon out of his shell. Of course, Simon better not fall for another woman when Kaylee is still out there somewhere!

The parents just need to be stuck on a spit and roasted over a Reaver fire.

You already know I love the way you're weaving this tale so - keep 'em coming nice and fast like :)

Wednesday, June 7, 2006 7:16 AM

AMDOBELL


Oh Wow, how could Simon and River's parents do that to him? Talk about the ultimate act of selfishness. It isn't love, not when it demands such a high nefarious price be paid by someone not given the option to choose. I so hope our Big Damn Heroes find out and launch a rescue. No wonder River cannot sense her brother any more, they have rearranged his mind into the perfect biddable son. Shame on them! I feel so sorry for Kaylee and her fragmented family on Serenity. The only bright light on the horizon is the safe haven of friends giving Kaylee love and shelter while she tries to heal. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, June 7, 2006 7:56 PM

BLACKBEANIE


Can't wait to see where this goes

Thursday, June 8, 2006 5:28 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Damn...the angst here is pea soup thick! River's in a major funk, Mal's breaking from all the guilt, Inara's trying to handle the pain from herself and Mal...and Simon's brain is probably gonna go all 'blooey soon from the neural reconstruction!

Still...loving this series so far, TamSibling!

Monday, June 12, 2006 6:41 AM

RIVERISMYGODDESS


Very good line:

*The Alliance had no idea that once Simon was gone, there was no hurt in the ‘verse that she could feel more deeply.*

Uhhhh, wow:

*Without another word, he rested his head in her lap, curling an arm around her knees and cried, openly and unashamedly.*

Nausea, eh? Someone's got some morning sickness, says me.

Reaver death is too good for the Tams.

The whole premise of this story is facinating to me, added to the fact that you are a wonderful writer, and I know I will be chomping at the bit for more as the story unfolds.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006 7:03 PM

GRIMLOCK


I'm a late comer some I'll be commenting in a floury.

I have a bad feeling about Keller...
And did you say something in the Prologue about an Operative? How can that be if he's having fatigue problems?

Sunday, March 25, 2007 7:07 PM

SUSANAH


This looks like fun. I love it.


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