Nightingale - Part VI
Sunday, April 22, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Inara ponders her future, and Simon thinks of his past, and comes to a decision ... Please let me know what you think of this concluding section, but there's angst on the horizon. Honest!


Inara lay in her bed and tried not to look around the shuttle. Virtually everything else had already gone, taken apart and reassembled in her house. Her house. It sounded odd, even to be thinking about it like that.

For so long this small ship had been her home, and by extension the larger Serenity. Even during the months she was away, she still found herself thinking about going home, and it was always the Firefly that sprang to mind. Only now home would be bricks and mortar, four walls and a newly-stolen roof …

She sighed and turned over. She’d left the door to the shuttle open tonight, not as an invitation, but just so she could hear anything happening. The ticks and groans as Serenity settled, the occasional ping as hot metal cooled, the faint buzz of conversation from various parts of the ship … She wouldn’t have that any longer. Could she cope, knowing that she couldn’t just walk down the catwalk and watch them playing ball? Or stroll into the galley to watch Kaylee create miracles with moulded protein? Or just go and sit with Ethan and Bethany while they played quietly?

Bethany. What Mal had said at dinner didn’t surprise her. The little girl had obviously inherited her father’s intellect, being so advanced for her years, and with a mother like Kaylee … There had been times too, lately, when she’d said things, made little comments about events she could know nothing about, and Inara had wondered if River’s gifts had been passed on as well.

It wasn’t going to be easy for the smallest Tam, Inara realised. Even with a loving family all around her, she would have to learn to hide her abilities, unless Simon intended knocking them out, like the slavers had done with Freya. No. He wouldn’t do that. No matter the look on his face when he realised Mal wasn’t joking, this was his daughter, and he loved her. Freya would teach her, as she’d taught River …

Freya. And Zoe. And Hank … she was going to miss them all so much. Even Jayne. This really wasn’t the time to be leaving, not with so many things happening. She wanted to see the new Jayne, see what kind of influence River had on him, if there could possibly be anything more to the man she honestly barely knew. And Zoe’s pregnancy … she wanted to see her bloom, see her waist expand with the baby, and Hank getting more and more proud. And Ethan was going to be walking soon, and any day he was going to say his first word, and she wasn’t going to be around to see it …

If Mal didn’t bring them back for regular visits, she was going to get very mad.


Simon watched from the doorway to the common area as Jayne and River walked back up the ramp together, not touching, just very close. From behind them he could hear a bird singing, and a separate part of his brain brought up a memory of when he was small, just after River was born, and his mother coming out into the gardens one night to find him.

“What are you doing out here, Simon? You’ll catch your death of cold.”

“I wanted to see the stars.”

“You can see them on the Cortex. What do you need to come out here for?”

“To really see them.” He looked up at her, his face so like his father’s. “Did you know some ancient people back on Earth-that-was thought they were the camp fires of other tribes that lived in the sky?”

“Really? No, I didn’t know that.” She stroked his hair.

“I read about it. They didn’t see why they couldn’t travel to meet them.”

Regan Tam smiled. “It seems they got their wish.”

Simon shook his head. “They died out. Before everyone left. They never got to see it.”

“Then I'm sorry for them.” She looked up. “What’s that big red star? Just up there?”

Simon followed her gaze. “That’s Beatrix. I think it was named after a queen, but … I’d have to look it up.”

“You can’t remember?” she teased.

“Not everything,” he admitted.

“You will, Simon.” She lifted her head. “Can you hear that?”

Simon listened. It was a bird singing. “What is it?” he asked, whispering.

“What do you think it is?”

“Birds don’t sing at night,” he insisted.

“One does. It’s a nightingale, Simon.”

“Nightingale?” He looked around. “Where is it?”

“You won’t be able to see it. It’s only small.”

“Why does it sing at night?”

“It’s calling to lovers everywhere.” She laughed at the little shudder he gave. He was so young. “Keats wrote a poem about one. You should look it up.”

“Must I?” He sounded peeved.

“Yes. It’s good for you.”

He sighed heavily. “All right.”

“Why don’t you come inside? Your sister is wondering where you are.”

He gave her a look, one of his special ones. “She doesn’t even know me.”

“Yes she does. She looks for you, Simon. Whenever you’re not around.”

“I … didn’t know.” He was surprised. To him she was just a crying, puking, smelly bundle, that had no relationship to him whatsoever.

“She needs you, Simon. To be her big brother. That’s a great responsibility.” She looked down into his pale face. “Do you think you can do that?”

He didn’t answer for a moment, pondering things. He’d liked being an only child, his parents always being there just for him, even if they were busy elsewhere a lot. But now there was someone else, someone to take their attention, to …

“Simon?” his mother prompted.

He sighed. “I suppose so.”

She smiled. “Good.” Putting her hand on his back, she pushed him gently. “Now, it’s time to come inside. There’s a sandwich if you’re hungry.”

He shrugged, his stomach grumbling. “A bit.”

Regan laughed. “Then come on.”

He let her take him back into the house, away from the stars, from the nightingale with its trills and cadences, back into the light and warmth. And the smell of a small baby. He approached the bassinet and peered in. His sister looked back, her little pudgy arms reaching up to him.

“You’d better do what I tell you,” he said quietly, so his mother couldn’t hear. “I’m in charge here.”

River waved at him, gurgling softly. He reached in and let her take hold of one of his fingers.

“I’m in charge here,” he repeated, but had a sinking feeling in the pit of his empty stomach that he was lying.

Now he watched as Jayne said goodnight to his little sister and headed towards his bunk, not even a chaste kiss between them. River watched the big man until he disappeared, then walked towards him.

She passed him in the dark, and smiled, her face lit with something he hadn’t seen on her for so long. He waited until she had gone through to the lower quarters, sliding her door across.

“Does he make you happy, mei-mei?” he asked softly, barely whispering the words.

Yes, came the response in his mind.


Does there have to be a reason?

He hung his head. “I suppose not.”

Be happy for me, Simon.

“River …” He swallowed, feeling a tear on his cheek. He wiped it away quickly. “I’ll try.”

A suffusion of warmth filled his mind, spreading out to his fingers and toes, and he took a deep calming breath.

Hands snaked around his waist, holding him, and a warm body pressed against his back.

“I love you, Simon,” Kaylee said.

He turned in her embrace, looking down into her beautiful face, and ran his fingers down her cheek. “I love you too, Kaylee Tam.”

She smiled. “I love it when you call me that. Makes me feel all … important. A doctor’s wife.”

“You are important,” he assured her. “Not as my wife, either. You keep this ship running like clockwork. You make everyone feel wanted and happy. You …” He smiled. “You’re going to help me get through this, aren’t you?”

“I’m so proud of you, Simon,” she said, snuggling against him.

“I’ll try to be worthy of that,” he replied as they headed back to their room.


AN: William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juilet: Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day. It was the nightingale, and not the lark, that pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear; nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree. Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.


Sunday, April 22, 2007 2:40 AM


Uh oh, there's more than enough potential angst from all quarters here...which way are you going to go? Loved this interlude of peace and reflection though. It helps make the angst all the more painful.

Sunday, April 22, 2007 7:13 AM


I really loved Simon's memory as it helps to give us even more perspective on why he's having such a hard time letting go. Also, I really feel for Inara. Even though it really is best for her to go, it's so obviously going to break her heart. I fear she's going to be exceptionally lonely - I hope she can find someone or something to fill her days.

Sunday, April 22, 2007 9:09 AM


Excellent as always. And what a responsibility for Regan to put on her son! He's never had a chance, has he?

Sunday, April 22, 2007 12:35 PM


I loved the little peek into Simon's past and am pleased that he is trying not to let his jealousy and over protective nature ruin River's chance of happiness. Also very pleased that River and Jayne are taking things slowly. As for Inara, I am glad she is going and will be starting a new life elsewhere. Hopefully she will find someone to love who will love her back and fill that great emptiness that used to be filled by her slavish devotion to the Guild. Hope the next part has some Mal/Freya goodness in it. I miss them! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, April 22, 2007 4:06 PM


Gotta say, I really feel for Inara. She has to leave Serenity before she lets the past swallow her whole and ruin the lives of her friends by trying too hard...but with the loss of her son permanently and her departure from the Guild, she is completely adrift in a way that only Mal has really known (though Mal's marriage to Freya and Ethan's birth have filled those holes nicely).

Also really loved your look at Simon's memory of River as an infant, when he first took up the mantle of ge-ge. Really says something when we see how the Tams Senior pushed their children to learn all they can at the expense of their own sense of self. Just hope Simon's revelations do help him come to see River and Jayne's attempt at a relationship as something important in River's life.



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[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

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[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

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[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]