"If Somebody Told Me" - Dr. Simon Tam
Saturday, December 7, 2002

**REVISED** Simon's reflections


Three months, two weeks, and six days. I'm cleaning up the sickbay. I'm surprised this model of ship has one, but it does, and it's my place now. The equipment here is hideously primitive - like something out of the twentieth century on most of it! Any further in the backwoods, and I'd be using bone saws and leeches.

I think this crew…well...I'm sure you've heard the jokes the Core Worlds call the frontier. Family trees that don't branch, people who are too damn ignorant to understand elementary concepts like land cruisers, who don't bathe and can't read, and spend their time shooting at each other. I hate to admit that the stereotype holds water in some cases, but it doesn't in others. I'm just hoping I don't say something stupid and get River and I stranded somewhere.

The crew has never seen her the way she was before. She and I could not be separated when we were young. One of my earliest memories…I was five years old when she was born. One night, she was sick, crying all night. I stayed awake most of the night to be by her crib, singing nonsense to her, talking to her, trying to mask the fact that I was scared because I didn't know what was wrong with her or how to help.

"Shh, mei-mei. Go to sleep. Don't be scared…"

I hear the same old words on the bad nights, and it shocks me to hear a man's voice - I'm always five years old again when I say them.

I'm used to taking care of her. It's maybe why I got into medicine - I'm so used to taking care of someone who's sick that it comes naturally. Well, Dad also had a hand in it, I suppose. The funny part is that he never talked about plans for River. At the time, I didn't notice. As Inara can tell you, a rich girl's job is to be a good society wife - supportive, ornamental, and next to useless.

When River hit her teens, things started to get strange. Mom and Dad had business to take care of and appearances to maintain. River just made those appearances a lot harder. Mom and Dad spent a lot of time arguing about her future. I was being a real ass at the time - full of myself and wanting to make Dad proud. The last thing I needed, I thought, was an overly bright baby sister. Besides, Dad was big on the notion of "a place for everyone, and everyone to their place." River didn't fit the vision he had for her. In trying to make him proud, I took on his worst features for a while.

As disgusted as it makes me now, I actually had been relieved when Mom and Dad sent her away to the facility. Having to live without her, made me realize just how much she means.

Just as he had wanted, I became a hotshot surgeon. Ten years they said, and I would have been Chief of Surgery in a top-rated hospital. As I was finishing my residency, the letters came. I wrote River, and we discussed the usual bland pleasantries. In one of her letters, though, she misspelled some words. River never misspelled words.

When we were children, we used to play games with codes. One of us would write something, and the other would try to break the code. River usually beat me. I decoded one of the messages though…


To make things ever more strange, I'd have a lot of nightmares about River. Couldn't talk to anyone about them, and they were driving me nuts. Mom and Dad were working on finding me a nice girl, but I started asking questions and started looking into the place they sent River. Being what I was, and having my place in the social ladder I had, I pulled strings to find out what exactly was going on.

I...saw things I wasn't supposed to. The answers I got back shattered my everything. They used people at that facility. Not just the mentally ill, but prisoners from the War, slaves...They were branded, injected with all kinds of disease and chemicals, and their reactions noted carefully until they died - they were thrown in an incinerator like trash. It was like something I read from the Middle Ages or the twentieth century - torture wearing a scientific mask.

It took everything I had, laundering assets, faking Ids...things I never thought I'd ever do. I'm wanted on several charges now - not the least of which is "grand theft" - yes, thanks to Mom and Dad, River is no longer a "person," she is "property."

Sometimes, she doesn't seem to understand how much I had to lose in order to get her out of that hellhole. But when she looks at me sometimes, I know that she does understand - far too well. She also knows other's like she can read minds, or see what's about to happen. It happened when we were kids, but it's a lot more frequent now. It scares me. I still am a doctor...Well, my license has probably been revoked the instant my arrest warrant showed up. I can never go back, and I know it. Sooner or later, they will find me - and I'll likely wind up finding out just what was done to River because they'll do it to me. Mal is the only one I've told this, though I'm betting River knows too...if we're captured, and there isn't going to be a way out for us without sacrificing the ship...there is something fast-acting and fairly painless in the upper right cabinet, far in the back and two doses left - one for her, one for me. All Mal did was request a third dose for himself if it comes to that. I hope it never comes to that.


Tuesday, July 29, 2003 2:31 PM


Another wonderful piece and I really liked the thoughtful tone to Simon's ruminations. It is written with a kind of honesty that can be painful like the early admission of how much his easier his own life would be if River were away at the facility, though of course he did not know what that actually meant at the time. Only what he thought it meant. It is like a coming of age and is really effective. Thank you so much for sharing your gift. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, December 14, 2003 5:34 AM


I thought it was nice. I could Simon's horrified look as he heard about the torture. *shiver* As much as I want to be as smart as River, I don't necessarily want to be her. As Jayne said: "Pain is scary."

Keep writn'!


You must log in to post comments.



A Place in this Verse
Sometimes, we all need a reminder of the special part we play.

"Waiting" Mal's POV
Facing death - it's the waiting that kills

"If Someone Told Me" - River Tam
River stays for the music

"If Somebody Told Me" - Dr. Simon Tam
**REVISED** Simon's reflections

"If Somebody Told Me" - Jayne Cobb
What's kept Jayne aboard?

"If Somebody Told Me" - Kaylee Frye
Why they came to Serenity, why they stay

"If Someone Told Me" - Companion Inara Sera
Why they came to Serenity, why they stay

"If Someone Told Me" - Wash
Why they came to Serenity, why they stay

"If Somebody Told Me" - Zoe
What brings the crew of Serenity to the ship, and why they stay...

"If Somebody Told Me" - Malcolm Reynolds
What brings the crew of Serenity to the ship, and why they stay...