Honest Run: Door
Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mal has another one of his barroom confrontations.


Honest Run: Distraction
Honest Run: Delusions
Honest Run: Deal
Honest Run: Din
Honest Run: Detail
Honest Run: Detachment
Honest Run: Diagnosis
Honest Run: Dance
Honest Run: Dignity
Honest Run

Happy thanks to jebbypal for the Beta!

Bobby Denton slammed the captain into the bar. While it wasn’t the most cunning plan Mal had conceived, it did have all the elements that were easy to apply. Coming into town, the trio hit up the bar with the intention of finding some of the Denton clan. Unusually busy for a morning at the bar (all the previous night’s drunks were curiously up and about, if groggy and unalert), there was indeed some hitting and some finding. Mal thought it convenient that he was doing both to the same man. There was a priceless consigned look on Simon’s face that Mal caught just after he opened up the lines of communication. Communication had consisted of the captain walking up to the Bobby Denton and knocking a curious look to the floor. The previous nights’ tenants were more than happy to join in and perpetuate the brawl. “Had enough, Reynolds?” “Not quite,” Mal thought it convenient that some object on the bar was glass and filled with beer just within his outstretched grasp, “I want my ship back,” he said as he slammed the beer bottle down across the man’s temple, “I don’t think I can make that point enough.” He followed that up with a gut shot and a wicked kick to the crotch. Denton bent, but he didn’t fall. Before Mal could follow up again, Bobby did a blind sweep with his arm to knock the captain back. Mal stumbled over the unconscious slump of a Denton cousin that he had personally head butted minutes before. “Captain…” Reynolds looked over to see Simon struggling unsuccessfully with another relative that was grinding his head into the beersoaked floor. The man was big like Bobby but fat, bald and ugly. Mal swiped blood from his mouth, “How are we doing, doc?” “I’m gonna crush yer friend,” the Denton smiled toothlessly, “And then Ima gonna git you…” With half his face being mashed, Mal forgave Simon the absence of witty reply. That was, of course, if Simon was paying attention to either Mal or his assailant. Simon had already confided that he was seeing things and as far as Mal could tell, he wasn’t lying. Simon would look off, seemingly distracted, but on closer inspection, the captain could see the man restraining himself. Whether in word or action, Mal couldn’t tell at the time. Well, not now. Right now, Simon’s face, from what Mal could see, was… annoyed. “Let me get this one for ya,” Mal broke a chair over Fat Bald and Ugly, gratified when the man slumped over, “How’s that?” As he pulled Simon to his feet, Mal reflected on the mayhem that he had started with the Dentons. The bottle breaking, the furniture throwing, the wicked drawn out brawling that filled every corner of the only bar in the small town. It brought a small proud smile to his face. A smile that Simon noticed, “Is this what you do every time you leave the ship for a job?” Simon asked him, “Pummel the locals into submission?” “Now doc,” Mal said, “You know that’s not true.” Simon flinched from a bottle that shattered near him, “You seem to forget the last time I assisted in a job…” Mal looked into his Simon’s yellowed features, “You know, doc. It could be you,” Mal smiled but didn’t feel it, “Whose to say that I don’t have a peaceful time during business hours?” Simon’s eyes flickered away as if he didn’t hear him, “I don’t care. Leave me alone.” There was an angry impatience that Mal knew wasn’t directed at him, “Doc?” Simon jumped away from him so suddenly that Mal himself had a twitch, “Captain?” The cousin that Mal had tripped over awoke and unwisely grabbed Mal’s foot from the floor. Annoyed, the captain hit the cousin with the wooden remnant in his hand, “And miss all this?” he flipped the body over with his boot. Trissa had joined in the brawl more on Simon’s behalf than Mal’s. Short she may have been, but Mal couldn't help but be surprised at how vicious and dirty she became when pressed. Simon pointed over to the large Denton that Mal was tangling with seconds earlier, “I think our alleged perpetrator is ready for another round of questioning…” Sure enough, Mal found that Bobby Denton had straightened out his eyes and was searching the room. Mal laid the stick to rest on his shoulder, “Damn,” he said, “Of all the times not to have Jayne around…” Simon gave him a startled glance, “He’s over there,” he said pointing to someone that was decidedly not Jayne, but was giving someone else a pummeling that Jayne would have been proud of. “Uh-huh,” Mal said neutrally, “I’m not sure he’s on our side.” “And that matters how?” “Good point,” Mal said, “Excuse me,” he hit a charging man with the remains of the chair, which he discarded as it splintered into oblivion. The thug was largely undeterred and hit Mal with a flying tackle. Frowning, Simon picked up the other chair beside him and brought it down satisfactorily. While the man wasn’t downed completely, Mal finished the stunned man with a quick vicious punch. “Good save…” Mal said. That was just as Bobby Denton shoved Simon back and tore the captain from the floor. “How’s it feel to want, Reynolds?” Bobby spit as he brought his strong hands together around Mal’s neck. He just caught the captain’s last breath, so Mal started seeing spots almost immediately. Out of bottled beers and wooden chairs, Simon threw himself on top of the brawny Denton’s back, his arms snaking around for his own choke. Mal saw the man’s eyes widen and felt the grip loosen as Simon’s choke threatened the big man. Bobby low blowed Mal with a kick and grabbed at Simon’s arms. Surprisingly, the slim doctor’s technique was better than the desperate situation demanded. Pulling him free wasn’t as easy as either Mal or Bobby would have thought. Bobby slammed the man backwards into the bar, but Simon didn’t relent his hold. Mal could only look on as Simon and Bobby grappled. The kick had been a good one, and the captain hadn’t found a decent breath yet. There was a grim determination in the doc’s eyes, but Mal couldn’t count on it. “Gorramit, Mal,” Trissa stumbled over to him, her pretty face slightly worse for wear, “Bobby’s gonna git your doctor friend,” she told him, “And not in a good way.” “What’s the good way?” Mal gasped and came to his feet Trissa winced as Bobby finally dislodged Simon and threw the doctor to the floor, “Not that one.” Another man jumped in front of Mal, grinning sadistically. Mal straightened and clocked him solidly, “You wanted to come…” he stepped on the newly minted thug, “I tried to stop you.” Trissa ducked a blow from another, “We wanted to keep you from getting killed,” she said as she threw her knee into the offender, doubling him over, “Because we thought this might happen,” Trissa brought her forearm down on the back of the man’s neck. “Good job,” Mal said. There was a resounding crack as Simon laid a straight punch neatly across Bobby’s jaw. Mal wasn’t sure how Simon had regained his footing, but it had been quick. Stunned, Bobby grabbed for Simon, catching his arm. Using a bit of the doctor’s spent momentum and the rest of his own strength, the Denton flung the doctor over the bar with a crash. When he turned back around, Mal was there with his own punch, “How’s my ship comin’?” the captain asked after he let it fly… Into the grasp of Bobby Denton’s, “I’ll say one thing, you’re persistent,” he smiled a bloody smile, “Who’s to say that I have this ship of yours?” he looked over to Trissa, amused. Mal drew his weapon seamlessly with the other hand, “I have my sources.” The Denton’s eyebrow went up, “Really?” he asked. The barrel was maybe an inch, if any, from his temple. His face still red from exertion and his breath heavy, Bobby gave the captain a look bereft of anger or venom. Mal looked over the bar, “Doc? You boozin’ back there?” There was a movement marked by shattered glass. A hand appeared on the bar. If Bobby looked threatened, he didn’t show it. He let go of Mal’s other hand and leaned against the bar as if the captain wasn’t there at all, “Nice punch there, doc,” Bobby said with unearned familiarity as he rubbed his jaw, “Meaner choke.” Simon’s other hand popped forth, pulling the man up, “Are we going to talk like normal people now?” There was the telltale sound of multiple guns leaving their holsters. “Yep,” Mal said. Mal saw Simon look out to the bar around them. Not every gun was pointed at them, but almost everybody had one. The silence that accompanied the standoff seemed unreal and so very still. Trissa stood motionless, her eyes roaming the room of bloodied participants. “Talking makes me thirsty,” The big man reached over and under the bar, producing a bottle of amber liquid to set on it, “I’d offer,” Bobby picked up an overturned glass off the counter, “But I see you’re busy.” “Seems that we have ourselves a dilemma,” Mal remarked. Bobby flushed out the glass with a quick pour, “We do,” the liquor hit the floor, “I’m still not sure that I have as much of one as you do,” he poured himself a quick shot and downed it, “I understand that somethin’ of yours got taken and you’re shaking the tree to see what falls down.” “Shiny ship, looks like a bug,” Mal said, “How’s that?” “Looks like we got ourselves a bit of a standoff ‘ere,” he said, “Don’t ya think? You there with a piece and me here with a drink,” he wiped his bleeding lip, stealing a glance at Simon, “But I can see that you’ve got a friend or two. This here ‘doc’ and Patty over there…” Bobby swished around another shot, “Hmmm,” he took in a full glance of Trissa, “I’m not remembering stealing anything that looks like that,” he said, “Although I’m sure you’ve been told different.” “I’m not sure you got this part,” Mal said, “But I’m trouble,” he continued to hold the gun steady, “Now I understand the loose definition of ownership,” he nodded to himself, “But I’m here to tell you that that little bit of mine is going to get returned. Now we can do it polite-like or we can do it not.” “Always good to see where a man stands,” Bobby poured another shot, “But I ain’t yours. So if’n you’re gonna shoot me, do it now.” Mal took a long look at Bobby. Much to Simon’s relief, the captain holstered the gun with one quick action, “I’ll take that drink,” without another word, he snatched Bobby’s glass and downed it, “Come on, doc,” he slammed the glass down with another quick look at the Denton’s face, “Ship ain’t gonna find itself.” Confused Simon obliged a quick: “Yes, captain.” With Mal’s gun down the other patrons of the bar began to slowly holster theirs. Without further explanation, the captain cut a quick path to the door. Simon followed him.

Simon barely caught Mal’s arm outside of the bar, “What’s going on? What was all that about?” Mal looked down on Simon’s hand keenly, “Getting a little personal there, doc.” Simon released, “This was part of your plan all along?” The town was barely more than a few buildings. In addition to the bar, there was a general store and what looked to be a Cortex feed building. Beyond that, there was a school not far off and some assorted homes. There was no building that was either a jail or a lawman’s office. “Doc,” Mal silenced him with a glance, “Shut it.” As they stood there, Trissa walked calmly out of the bar. There was a look of consternation on her face. “Well?” she asked Simon. Simon shrugged, “I said I trusted the man,” He looked over to Mal with a sour face, “Not that I understood his every whim.” “Whim?” she confronted Mal, “Is he serious? You turn out the bar on everyone for a whim?” Mal tilted his head in Simon’s direction, “That was awful insightful of ya, doc,” he said, “Where’d you come up with that one? Did you have help?” “We have a personal history of violence,” Simon said, “It is your second language.” The captain started walking out from the town, “It is that,” he said as Trissa flanked him, “But it wasn’t entirely on whim. I had to take a good look at this Bobby Denton of yours, see how far along he is with my ship. Had to be sure that he had it at all, actually.” “And?” Simon asked. “He does, or at least knows where it’s about. I even think he had a hand in it crashing, but that’s just a feeling…” “Maybe it’s just me,” Simon said, “But I must have missed that. Was it before or after he started choking you?” “After,” Trissa interrupted, “If I’m not mistaken. Must have been all the posing and posturing at the bar…” Mal tipped off a kindly salute to an old lady that was obviously staring at his freshly bleeding face. She was sitting on a bench outside of the convenience store porch knitting something. The woman waved back hesitantly. “Good to see you, Ms. Poppers,” Trissa nodded at the lady. “Patricia Brown,” the woman said loudly, “You ain’t never going to get yourself a man if you don’t stop playing so rough!” “If you can’t break ‘em in when you meet ‘em,” Trissa smiled coyly at Mal, “That means more work in the long run…” “Patty, darling,” the old lady looked up at the men as they stopped by, “That’s what marriage is,” she said, “Breaking them in.” “Yes, Ms. Poppers.” “You going to make the evening services, dearie?” “Sorry, Ms. Poppers,” Trissa said, “I don’t think so. There’s going to be more breaking in to be had.” “Of course, of course,” the woman paid them no more mind and began to knit. Mal mouthed the name: Patty? Trissa waved it off. “Breaking in?” Simon asked as they left the old woman. “Now, doc,” Mal said, “You can’t just start in on a woman’s secrets…” “I don’t think that’s what Simon or I meant,” Trissa replied. “Good,” Mal continued to walk, “It helps not having to explain everything all the time. You know doc, I’ve noticed your insanity is breeding all sorts of perception.” “It would probably be more accurate to say that the poisons in my body are bringing forth the perceptions that are leading into insanity…” Simon scratched behind his ear, “Captain.” “Sometimes I just like to hear the man talk,” Mal said to Trissa. Simon raised an eyebrow, “Since when?” Mal ignored that, “What kind of welcome are we going to receive?” “If we are going to the Dentons’ place, Mal, we’d better not be anticipating any welcome at all.” “Bullets and the body holes?” “Word is that Old Man Denton has himself some war artillery that he’s been itching to use, so the holes’ll be big and far across…” “I’m thinking sneaky, then.” Trissa nodded at that. “Captain shouldn’t we be planning? This doesn’t sound very advisable…” Mal turned on him then, “Doc,” he took Simon by the shirt, “I ain’t got the time to argue about this and that, and I bet you’ve got less. I can’t make no plan if I don’t know what I’m up against, so that’s what we’re going to go find out.” Staring into Simon’s eyes Mal couldn’t see the fight that he was looking for. There was a deep weariness in those shadowed sockets, “So I’ve got me precious little time to explain everything,” the captain released him. Trissa on the other hand looked like she was going to gut him then and there. After weathering many similar glances from Zoe, Mal put it out of mind. Trissa herself said nothing. Simon blinked, “Understood.” That wasn’t the response that Mal was looking for. He was looking for some of that anger and spirit that Simon had displayed hours ago or the night previous. ‘Course the doc did get the breath knocked out of him a few times at the bar. “That was quite a bit of mayhem that we did to that Bobby Denton, doc,” Mal said, “We’re gonna visit some more on these others and get you where you need to be.” Trissa’s expression softened slightly. Simon’s own expression changed none, “Yes, captain.” Mal didn’t linger, instead he turned and started walking again, “However, you get yourself an idea, either a right proper one or one of them crazies, I got me a suggestion box,” he said, “’Cause I might need me a masterwork plan or a crazy one, so let’s use what we got.”

“So this is the kind of living that my son has been reduced to?” the eldest Tam told his son, “A backwater planet in the company of thieves and danger?” Simon could only stagger on. As much as he wanted to reject it, his mind was not his own. The delusions of Jayne and his father were nagging doubts that had been given form and substance in his weakened mental state. Jayne seemed to personify the deepest doubts that he had about the captain along with thoughts that only the mercenary could state without reproach. An id that could not be easily ignored. His father seemed to cover just about everything else. It was enough that these thoughts were his own, albeit blown out of proportion, but to have Jayne verbalize them, to put them in a context that Simon would never in a million years contemplate… It was hard. It was hard not to respond, to bite back an argumentative stance for the reason that it was no one other than himself that originated the thought. That it was the madness that chafed him, that it was madness that perpetuated the argument within him. Somehow, he had thought, just knowing that his mind was going to start slipping would have made the whole process easier. Now he understood that that conclusion had been a serious error. The path in front of him had long gone indistinct. It was one that Mal and Trissa had struck up to investigate where the Dentons had brought the shuttle. If perhaps it could be somehow retrieved from their land without repercussion. While Simon had doubts that the captain could manage such a feat, he acknowledged that the captain had surprised him before. He had told the captain as much. Mal and Trissa had straddled him in line. Mal to the front, Trissa bringing up the rear. “Are you ignoring me, son?” his father asked, “I should be used to it by now I suppose.” Simon continued to ignore the man. It wasn’t truly his father. He closed his eyes and continued to walk blindly, caring not if he stumbled. Book had told him something during their many discussions about River that haunted him now. Simon would always play the role of logic; the skeptic. Book; obviously, the believer. “How much of a person is the perception of others?” “How much does a person shelter in that perception?” Simon now found both of those questions deeply disturbing. That there was more truth in these delusions of his than he would like to acknowledge. “You stopped listening to me when this whole thing with your sister began,” he studied his son, “Your suspicions…” He meant to spear his father’s imagined form with a glare. Instead, Simon looked up to find his father’s study around him, “What the…” His father contemplated him from behind the ornate desk, his fingers steepled, “I don’t suppose that my disappointment in you would make any difference in your actions…” Behind him, Jayne had claimed the only other chair in the room. Dressed as well as Simon had ever seen the mercenary, Simon imagined that he could hear the grating of Jayne’s stubble goatee on the fine shirt that wrapped neatly around the man’s neck. There was a cigar in his hand, lit. In the other; an expensive book held upside down as the mercenary made a transparent effort to conceal himself behind the extravagant binding. Simon examined the room around him. All he could imagine was that he had simply fallen unconscious. Exhaustion, maybe. There was also a real possibility that he had gone comatose, that his mind had succumbed to the physical poisoning. In the bar, hours before, he had discovered that there was a numbness in his touch. That pain had to be both severe and sudden for him to feel anything. A stroke? Not for the first time, Simon wondered if he should have stayed back at the Brown’s ranch. But, despite it all, he felt a responsibility for the captain. Despite all the heated arguments, he felt more and more that his place was with him. Perhaps, when this was all over, he could sit down and talk to Zoe about it. “Well?” Gabriel Tam asked, “What is it going to be?” His father’s voice grated with impatience. “I’m sorry?” “I think we’re past the point of apologies, Simon,” his father sat in the chair behind the desk, his dark hair neat, his clothing immaculate, “But I suppose it’s a start…” “So this is where you get that soap box o’ yers,” Jayne puffed on his cigar, “I kinda thought they passed them out to the rich and privileged…” “What are you doing here?” Simon asked him. “What?” Jayne asked, “Can’t a man talk to another about their son?” he winked, “I’ve been filling the man in on your…” he swirled around the cigar above him in thought, “What’s the word? Help me out here…” he asked Simon. For his part, Simon just stared at him. Jayne snapped his fingers, “Exploits.” “Yes,” his father said, “Mr. Cobb here has been extremely helpful…” “’Cause we’re…” Jayne smiled disingenuously, “Concerned.” “Disappointed is more like it,” his father replied, “Did you really raid an Inner Planet Hospital? Did you actually rob like a common criminal?” He asked, “What a waste.” His voice very quiet, Simon said, “I did it to help River…” “That’s becoming a long list, isn’t it?” Simon only stared for a moment, his ears hot with anger, “Disappointed?” Simon asked him, “Disappointed? You’re disappointed in me?” “If you have something you’d like to say,” Tam parted his hands, “Now is the time…” “How about my disappointment in you?” Simon asked, “The disappointment in a father that cares nothing of his own blood?” “Nothing?” Tam asked, “Nothing? Of everything that I’ve provided for you… A roof over your head, schooling to build your career, the countless other things that I have bought and paid for you…” Simon put his hands on the desk, “I’m. Not. Talking. About. Me,” he leaned forward, “Where were your provisions when I was looking for River? Your daughter?” “Foolishness.” He said, “I came for you…” “Did you come for her?” His father stood up, “How dare you? How dare you insinuate that I cared nothing for my daughter?” “Insinuate?” Simon asked, “The facts are there. To this day, I’m sure that you ignore them…” “To this day?” his father stood up, “To this day? Let me tell you about this day. Do you think they left me and you mother alone after it became apparent that you and your sister had found each other? Do you think they left us our assets, our livelihoods after what you pulled?” he waved around, “Do you think this even exists now?” Simon felt the empathy. “Your home,” Gabriel Tam told him, “The house that you and your sister grew up in. Do you think we have it? Can you think of the lives that you’ve destroyed along with your own?” “I can only think of the one that I’ve saved,” Simon responded sadly. “Saved?” His father accused him, “Saved? Look at me and tell me that you’ve truly saved your sister. That if all of this was to get her back,” he said, “That she is as whole as you imagined her…” “Father…” “Perhaps if you had left her where she was,” Gabriel Tam stood up and leaned forward, “She wouldn’t need all this ‘help.’” “Praise the Lord and pass the ketchup,” Jayne clapped, “Should have kept your cushy job and left your sister in the crazy house.” Simon ignored him, “How can you say that? You have no idea what they were doing to her…” “And you do?” Simon’s thought stumbled. “You know exactly what they were doing to her, do you? That you were helping by taking her away from it. Perhaps they were doing what was necessary for her to be a normal child. A normal woman,” The elder Tam said, “You don’t think that we knew that your sister was different? We loved River, but we wanted her to live a normal life…” “That was no ‘school,’” Simon told him, “They were hurting her. She told me so.” “I imagine she says a lot of things now,” Tam replied, “Do you believe every one of them? Does it hurt her when you pump her full of drugs day after day?” “That’s different.” “Is it? Tell me, do you pump her full of drugs to help her or to keep her under control?” his father asked, “Is it such a difference the face attached to the medicine?” “I’m trying to help her,” Simon clenched his fists at his side, “She knows it.” “How do you know that they weren’t helping her the same way that you are now?” “There was nothing wrong with her!” “Control yourself, son,” his father told him, “The fact is that your sister was always different. You were the only one that even pretended to understand her. Like it or not, she may have been too different. Perhaps they were just trying to reconcile those differences…” “Why couldn’t you love her the way she was?” Simon shook his head, “If that was indeed the case, why could you not love her the way that she was?” For the moment, Gabriel Tam was quiet. “I did,” Simon said to himself. “You’ve ruined her, Simon,” his father said, “You took her away from everything and anyone that could have helped her. You’ve ruined us with it,” he picked up a ledger, “And worst of all you’ve ruined your own life.” Simon wanted the statement to be just words, but it wasn’t so. His words seemed so hallow compared to his father’s, his logic just as flawed. “Yet here you are,” his father said, “Squandering not only your abilities, but your life on these people…” “You could learn a lot from ‘these people’, as you’ve so coined the phrase…” “Oh really,” his father began a turn around his desk, “Do you really think so?” Simon began to waver. His will seemed to crumble as he continued to confront his doubt. At a very tentative level, he knew that this was indeed what the visage of his father represented. “Apparently you’ve learned quite a bit,” his father continued. But there could be no doubt without truth. “You are a failure, Simon,” Gabriel Tam said, with every word he spoke heartrending, “It’s a cruel twist that it wasn’t confined to you…” As alien as it was to him, Simon trembled with anger that just moments before been something else entirely, “Pity that me being a failure isn’t enough for you,” Simon grabbed his father across the desk he had yet to circumnavigate, “It’s all I see now…” Simon stared into his father’s eyes, “And I’m not talking to a mirror am I?” “I’d say not,” Mal struggled in Simon’s grip, “Anything else you’d like to say?”


Wednesday, August 10, 2005 1:46 PM


Reality's overrated.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 6:53 PM


As Mal would say...."Huh."

Very interesting.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 6:44 AM


Oooh, creepifying for poor Simon but mesmerising as well, gorrammit! Can't wait to see what happens next. Shiny, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, August 13, 2005 3:56 PM


Not a problem:) Glad to help good fic reach the masses (and moi) faster:)

Thursday, August 25, 2005 2:25 PM


I have enjoyed this series. Well written and charactization is great.

When will the next chapter be coming?


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Honest Run: Daring
Another round table discussion on how to get the captain out of trouble.

Honest Run: Dilemma
Honest Run?!? He's still writing this?!?!

Honest Run: Derelict
Zoe and the crew finish their part of the deal, running across a bit of history along the way.

Reaver Attack: Denial
Reavers are real aren't they? My entry into the Serenity contest.

Honest Run: Door
Mal has another one of his barroom confrontations.

Honest Run: Distraction
Comets, comedy, and confession. Another day on Serenity.

Honest Run: Delusions
Things get a little more resolved. Simon's mind begins its downward spiral.

Honest Run: Deal
A little prequel action, explaining a few of the questions of the where and how variety. Features Wash and Zoe and certain Denton.

Honest Run: Din
Pair up. Where's River?

Honest Run: Detail
What is it with Jayne anyway?