Aberration 10/?
Sunday, September 7, 2008

Something happens, something changes and Jayne has a choice to make. One Tam is left behind on Ariel.


Warnings: Altered timeline from 'Ariel', angst, interrogation, abuse

Time period: Around ‘War Stories’

Thanks to lvs2read for the great beta and thunder_nari for the great beta and spurring me on.

He’s taken the operative’s words literally, believing and steeling himself against pain and possible torment; trying to think up ways to disassociate himself if that happened. Instead the blue-handed man is disinterested, has smiled at first in such at way that made Simon’s gut wrench. The man pulls up a chair as he moves his hand to Simon’s water, making the doctor believe that they are going to start dehydrating him. Taking away the basic comforts of food and water. But the man merely pours himself a glass and tops up Simon’s, which confuses the doctor greatly. It is bad enough that his room has all the markings of a Core hotel- comfortable, clean and almost homely-as opposed to the cells, or possibly hole, Simon envisioned. But now they are going against all he’s imagined, all he has prepared himself for. Its distracted him enough that he doesn’t notice that the blue-handed man never touched a drop of the water.

Simon notes cameras mounted to each wall, pinpricks half hidden and not at all obvious, in every room he’s been in. On a particularly long day he’s spent what he assumes is the better part of it, scouring the room they’ve given him for such devices. Spending the rest of the day trying to imagine what techniques they’ll use, just how they could get him to talk about River.

When his captor escorts him to the large tank he feels his heart lurch, wonders what horrors lay inside it. But anxiety quickly gives way to embarrassment, to humiliation, as he’s ordered to strip. His initial refusal has the blue-handed man waiting patiently, speaking calmly as though he were lecturing a rebelling child. The man’s words only add to the mortification Simon feels, though he’s finally convinced to shrug off his clothes when the threat is insinuated, if Simon didn’t undress himself he’d call some people in who would do it for him.

He means it to. Simon’s seen the slight smile play around the man’s lips, telling him he’d be happy enough to do just that and hastening the doctor’s motions to undress. He feels leery standing on the cold floor, hands cupping himself, with just the man’s eyes on him. He could try running before he’s in a much more vulnerable position, but is under no illusions that the whole place is heavily guarded. However lax security looks.

Drug therapy’s too unreliable, too many side effects. There’s always the chance of brain damage if the dosage is too high and misinformation if it’s too low. Still it had been Simon’s first thought, first suspicion. That whilst they can’t drug him enough to reveal River’s location, can’t rely on the information he’d give them, perhaps they’ll use drugs to inflict pain, to send burning agony through his veins and then just keep asking and asking until they figure he’ll break.

This is the last thing in the ‘verse that Simon’s been expecting, perhaps not even the last since it never would have occurred to him for his captors to be so perverse. Take such delight in torturing him. Not with pain, but with fear; and something equally as demoralizing--boredom.

They’ve already started the process of boring him, frustrating him, though to their minds they are giving him time to recover, to heal. And Simon is grateful for that time, glad that now his ribs only twinge, an annoyance more akin to pulling a muscle rather than the wrenching burn from before. But now it’s all too much, now he needs answers, wants them even, but receives nothing.

There’s nothing much he could do now, but to climb into the open tank, let the black hole reflecting nothingness swallow him down. Anything could be inside and Simon fights panic as darkness stares back at him. Just as dark as the Black had seemed from Serenity. Simon wonders if they can read his mind in much the same way as they wanted River to. He can’t fathom how they know, how they guess, how frightening it is to be told to step into nothing. To not know what’s in the tank, to feel himself fall in and hit anything.

“Amazing what nothing can do to a man.” He shudders as the words ring in his mind, eyes still focused on the yawning hole, not liking to remember or think about Serenity or any of her crew, not when he could accidentally say something or give them away somehow.

The choice to get in is lost when the blue-handed man slaps his hand firmly against Simon’s back, jolting him and making him fall forward into the hole. He tells himself he’s lucky not to hit any of his extremities as he falls through, but the thought’s fast and quickly lost in the dizzying rush that lasts only a few seconds before he falls into the water. Face first, stinging slap as he meets it, air pushed from his lungs as he’s winded, and his involuntary action is to open his mouth and breathe.

Simon sucks down a lungful of water, choking and jolting as he does, hands clawing for a surface that’s easy to reach and then he’s retching, coughing up water as his nose runs and eyes stream. The waters tepid, not cold but not warm enough for Simon and he shivers, sneezes as his nose clears. His throat burns again and there’s an unpleasant taste at the back of his throat. He kicks his feet, treading water to stay afloat as he wipes the wet hair from his face, does his best to push water from his eyes and nose, and peers up at the light from the room above.

“Son of a bitch.” He doesn’t usually curse and the words are more coughed out, but the man looking down doesn’t answer him, merely smiles once more and suddenly Simon’s acutely aware of just why that smile scares him so much. There’s no answer from above and Simon kicks out, swims to the side, hands grasping in vain for any kind of hold. But the sides are slippery and smooth, his fingers can’t even find a seam to dig nails into.

“What kind of sick game is this?” The words are a whisper, but he’d have got no shout from above even if the blue handed-man had heard him.

His captor’s not wanting to talk right now, not about to try asking questions once more, he just watches Simon splash for a moment before the doctor swims back to the middle and looks up at him. Puts all his attention on him. Watches as blue hands grasp at the edge of the hole, tugging the sliding door, never once taking his eyes from Simon’s as he slowly slides it across.

Simon’s struck mute for a moment, stupefied and horror-struck as the man calmly slides the door closed, the light fading as he does until the door finally snicks shut and not a glimmer shows through. Darkness, complete and unyielding, no light, no nothing and suddenly Simon’s terrified once more, splashing as he rotates one way and then the other, hearing nothing but echoes around him as his breathing quickens.

All around me…nothing…

He can’t touch bottom, doesn’t want to even try. If he holds his breath and ducks down will he reach bottom, will he come back up only to find no space between the top of the tank and the water? Will his lungs burn as he struggles to hold his breath, to keep himself from drowning or will they give out quickly, weakened from the pain in his ribs from before? Simon has no answer and the possibilities scare him.

Stop flailing, keep treading water and don’t panic.

Simon inhales deeply, then exhales quickly, still treading water. He closes his eyes and tries to ignore the scared sound echo around him, encourages calm to wash over him instead as he concentrates on what he does know. River’s safe.

It’s enough to quiet his mind for a moment, a better distraction than categorizing just what they could be doing, what they’re attempting by this game. That’s an avenue he doesn’t want to explore. His legs are starting to ache and after a moment wrestling with his own dislike for lying on his back, naked and floating, he does so. He still can’t see anything and it’s now worse than the black in Simon’s mind. Being separated from nothingness by a flimsy material was terrifying enough, made Simon’s head spin as if he had vertigo, but at least there he had the distraction of worrying if Mal’s plan would succeed; he could take comfort in River, in having his sister close and taking delight in the starlight around her, and Serenity, odd as it sounds given how hard he’s tried to regard the ship as nothing more than a means to an end, a way away from the Alliance. It was comforting to rest his helmet on her, to grip tightly and finally to stumble inside and all but kiss her floor in relief.

Now there’s nothing and Simon merely floats, trying not to let the fear of nothing embrace him once more.

Which is exactly what they want from him, though Simon can’t see it yet; can’t see their subtle methods of breaking him down. Taking away everything from him bit by bit, starting with his control, with his expectations. It’s not that they aren’t impatient, but they know better than to rush these things. Breaking the doctor would be easy enough if they wanted nothing more then a gibbering wreck of a man at the end of the process, if they wanted any information Simon gave them to be sketchy. He can’t hear what they’re saying, can’t see them watching him from the other side of the immersion tank. They are commending each other on a good first choice, hoping to lull the doctor into depression, into constantly thinking on his sister, on his own failings until he can think of nothing more, until there’s nothing more to focus on. Which is when they’d start offering.

They know it will take more than one session, plan at least one a day if not more. Since the doctor’s recovered from the anesthetic and its lethargic after-effects, he’s been sleeping more and has no real knowledge of how long he’s been captured, how long the days are. So it's easy to drug him into a false sleep, let it last a few hours then wake him up claiming it is a new day. His constant waking and sleeping should confuse the doctor's own body enough to weaken it, only adding to everything else they plan to explore. Soon enough he’ll accept their offer.

Neither one expects the doctor to last long under the pressure they’ll put him under, expecting him to show signs of cracking; soft and spoiled, brattish and encumbering, that is how they see Simon. Even if he is extremely stubborn; refusing to answer a single question put to him, instead he's countered them with his own, demanded answers and somehow found enough energy to be sardonic towards them.

But they can be equally stubborn and have barely begun breaking Simon.


Sunday, September 7, 2008 11:57 PM


Powerful and creepifying. I hope Simon gets rescued soon because sensory deprivation has to be one of the worse forms of torture there is, stripping a mind of all its' reason and defences. Poor Simon. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, September 9, 2008 9:50 PM


Thing is, though, Simon knows how this works. And no matter what the men think, he isn't weak.

Monday, September 15, 2008 1:18 PM


I agree totally with Jane...Simon is in no way weak. I have often thought that he was infact incredibly strong to endure all he has and come out sane (if somewhat repressed) on the other side. I am enjoying this story very much, even if I have more or less started in the middle and worked my way backward. Due to my mom's illness and death a month or so ago I have not read anything in quite some time..I am glad to come back to something that catches my interest so. Keep up the good work.


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Aberration 19/?
Something happens, something changes and Jayne has a choice to make. One Tam is left behind on Ariel.

Aberration 18/?
Something happens, something changes and Jayne has a choice to make. One Tam is left behind on Ariel.

Aberration 17/?
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Aberration 16/?
Something happens, something changes and Jayne has a choice to make. One Tam is left behind on Ariel.

Aberration 15/?
Something happens, something changes and Jayne has a choice to make. One Tam has to be left behind on Ariel.

Aberration 14/?
Something happens, something changes and Jayne has a choice to make. One Tam is left behind on Ariel.

Aberration 13/?
Something happens, something changes and Jayne has a choice to make. One Tam is left behind on Ariel.

Aberration 12/?
Something happens, something changes and Jayne has a choice to make. One Tam is left behind on Ariel.

Trade off: Negotiation (3/3)
Some lines were just drawn to be crossed, some things just need resolving. Mal and Simon come to an agreement. (Warnings: fantasizing, aftermath of dom/sub games and thrashing, tiny bit of angst, romance)

Trade off: Submission (2/3)
Mal finds a way to rid himself of the tension that’s been aggravating him. (fantasizing, smut, slash dom/sub games)